Recent Developments In Tackling Damp And Mould In Social Housing

Recent Developments In Tackling Damp And Mould In Social Housing

Following the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak from a respiratory condition exacerbated by damp and mould present in his flat, the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) sent letters to registered providers of social housing reminding them:

a) of the potential danger of damp and mould to human health,
b) that damp and mould are potential dangers under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System,
c) that tenants’ concerns should be listened to, and
d) registered providers should have systems in place to identify and ensure that their homes are free from hazardous levels of damp and mould.

The largest social housing providers were asked in the letters to provide RSH with the following information by 19 December:

  • Their method for measuring damp and mould, including the most recent assessment of damp and mould in the context of this approach.
  • Action they are taking to remedy any issues and hazards, and ensuring homes meet the Decent Homes Standard.
  • How they ensure that individual damp and mould cases are detected and managed quickly and successfully.

The information provided to the RSH must be supported by relevant data.

The Social Housing Report published in July 2022

In late October 2022, the House of Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee (the Committee) published the responses to its First Report of Session 2022–23, The Regulation of Social Housing (the Report).

In the initial Report, the Committee aimed to engage with as many social housing tenants as possible and received 628 responses covering matters such as the condition of their property, their providers’ responsiveness to requests for repairs, and their awareness of their right to take a complaint to the Ombudsman. The Committee also visited two housing association sites and spoke with tenants residing there.

With regards to housing disrepair, the Report spoke plainly, stating:

“It appears from most of the evidence to our inquiry that some social housing has deteriorated to the point of being unfit for human habitation. The worst conditions were variously described as “horrendous”, “appalling”, “disgraceful”, “scandalous”, and “unimaginable, uninhabitable and criminal”. Nick Murphy, Chief Executive, Nottingham City Homes (NCH), called this deteriorated housing an “embarrassment” to everyone in the sector, and Helen Garrett, BRE Group, even questioned “whether it would be safe for a surveyor to go into those homes”. Daniel Hewitt, ITV News, described one site as “the most indescribably poor, squalid and dangerous housing” he had ever seen, and the moment he saw it as “probably the angriest” he had ever been, “not just as a journalist, but as a human being”. Kate Henderson, Chief Executive, National Housing Federation (NHF), said the worst conditions were “completely unacceptable” and personally apologised on behalf of the providers her organisation represented.”

Damp and mould made up a considerable number of the social housing dilapidation issues. The Committee heard of one woman living in a flat with two children in which the black mould was so severe that mushrooms were growing in the corners. All three had developed breathing issues which their doctor blamed on their living conditions. Despite the tenant complaining for over two years, the housing provider had not addressed the problem.

Responses to the Social Housing Report

The Regulator of Social Housing responded to the Committee’s findings by pointing out that the examples highlighted by the Report, whilst “wholly unacceptable” did not represent the majority of social housing tenants’ experiences.

Regarding the treatment of tenants, the Regulator agreed that providers “must take concerns over stigma and discrimination seriously”. It stated that it will begin consultation this year on a new set of standards (subject to enactment of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill and Direction to the Regulator by the Secretary of State) which may include the creation and support of tenant panels and groups to encourage better communication.

The Housing Ombudsman was also invited to respond. One of the Report’s recommendations was that all housing providers and the Housing Ombudsman co-ordinate to develop a strategy to increase awareness of the Housing Ombudsman and the rights of tenants to access its services. The Ombudsman agreed that more needed to be done to raise awareness of and access to the complaints procedure that can be accessed through its office.

Wrapping up

Unfortunately, when it comes to the government changing housing policies, nothing happens in a hurry. However, the Minister for Housing, Levelling Up and Communities, Michael Gove, has named and shamed several social housing providers over the past few months. One example is Birmingham City Council which failed to respond to a resident’s complaints of boiler faults and rotten floorboards in their living room.

The Social Housing (Regulation) Bill is currently at the Report stage and will receive its third and final reading at a date to be confirmed. According to the Explanatory Notes, the Bill

“…will facilitate a new, proactive approach to regulating social housing landlords on consumer issues such as safety, transparency and tenant engagement, with new enforcement powers to tackle failing landlords. The intent of this Bill is to reform the regulatory regime to drive significant change in landlord behaviour to focus on the needs of their tenants and ensure landlords are held to account for their performance.”

If you are a tenant and your home is in disrepair and your landlord has failed to respond to your complaints, it is imperative to contact an experienced Housing Claims Solicitor. They can not only ensure the problem with your property is fixed, but they can also get you compensation.

How Nicholson Jones Sutton Solicitors can help you with damp and mould repairs

Nicholson Jones Sutton Solicitors are one of the few housing disrepair solicitors across England and Wales who have a professional and dedicated legal team to ensure that your repairs are completed and more importantly get your home into the excellent condition that you deserve.

We can help you with the following aspects:

  • Instruct a surveyor to assess the disrepair and provide a report to use as evidence
  • If necessary, legally ensure your housing association or council completes all your repairs.
  • Claim compensation for you for the period of time your property has been in disrepair

Nicholson Jones Sutton Solicitors are housing disrepair claim experts, assisting tenants nationwide on a NO WIN NO FEE basis to compel their council to conduct crucial repairs to their properties, in addition to recovering compensation for the period of time repairs have been delayed.

Our team has decades of combined experience in dealing with Housing Disrepair Claims. We are sympathetic, understanding, and are here to help you every step of the way.

Call us on 0800 093 3393 today to discuss your claim.


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