Takeaways from New Report into Damp and Mould in Social Housing

Takeaways from New Report into Damp and Mould in Social Housing

On 28th June 2023, the Regulator of Social Housing published a report on damp and mould in social housing stock. The paper was created in response to the Coroner’s report on the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in Rochdale, in which damp and mould present in the toddler’s home was found to have contributed to his death.

What was the focus of the report into damp and mould in social housing?

After the Coroner had published his report, the Regulator asked all large registered providers of social housing to submit evidence concerning the extent of damp and mould in their housing stock and their approach to tackling it. The initial findings from 386 responses were published in February this year and showed:

  • Most social housing providers are aware of damp and mould issues in their housing stock and are actively trying to deal with the issue; however, more could be done.
  • A majority of social housing tenants live in premises free from damp and mould; however, where it is present, it can negatively impact on a tenant’s health and wellbeing.
  • Some landlords submitted poor quality responses that raised red flags concerning their proactiveness and commitment in tackling damp and mould issues.
  • RSH’s best estimate is that less than 0.2% of social homes have the most serious damp and mould problems, 1-2% have serious damp and mould problems, and a further 3-4% have notable damp and mould.

Eight local authority landlords provided extremely poor responses, highlighting that some:

  • Did not have up-to-date and detailed stock data and condition surveys.
  • There was no clear processes and procedures for dealing with damp and mould issues.
  • Could not identify homes within their portfolios that were damp and mouldy.

These eight landlords are engaging with the Regulator. In addition, since the Coroner’s report, the Regulator has received 12 self-referrals from landlords for potential breaches of the Home Standard due to damp and mould and 38 referrals from other sources. The Home Standard sets expectations for registered providers of social housing to provides tenants with quality accommodation and a cost-effective repairs and maintenance service.

Why do some social housing providers struggle to manage damp and mould complaints?

There is a familiar saying provider of social housing are all aware of, namely – “the sector is awash with data, but information is in short supply.”

In 2022, the Better Social Housing Review called for a nationwide audit to be undertaken to gain a “comprehensive, consistently measured picture of the state of social housing across the country”.

“Many stakeholders we spoke with suggested that housing associations both need to be more proactive about getting on top of data on quality and to make more effective use of what is already known.”

It needs to be acknowledged that the social housing sector is facing the same external pressures as many other public bodies, such as insufficient staff, continual budget cuts, and rising prices. However, the Better Social Housing Review makes clear that providers need to up their game in many areas:

“…we urge every housing association to have the courage to ask themselves difficult, but necessary, questions about the reality of all the homes they provide, and the service given to all their tenants, so that real progress can continue to be made.”

Another reason tenants often struggle to get their social housing landlord to take action is because in the past, there has sometimes been a tendency to blame the tenant for failing to ventilate the property or doing things that can cause condensation such as drying clothes indoors. This has led to situations where the tenant is forced to waste time defending their actions and behaviours to a landlord who is in no hurry to fix the problem because they are under the misconception that it is self-inflicted.

What are the recommendations for improving damp and mould in social housing?

The key recommendations from the Better Social Housing Review include:

1. Housing associations need to go back to evaluating their performance against their core purpose – to provide decent, safe homes for those who cannot afford to rent in the private sector.

2. A full audit of social housing stock must be undertaken.

3. Each housing association should ask tenants, frontline staff, and contractors to work together to review how the organisation deals with maintenance and repairs.

4. Housing associations need to focus on recruiting and retaining housing officers so officers’ existing ‘patch’ sizes can be reduced.

5. Tenants should be empowered to lead investigations and reviews.

6. Providers should increase engagement by setting up and/or utilising more community-based hubs.

7. Housing associations should support tenants and frontline staff to undertake an annual review of the progress each organisation is making in fulfilling this review’s recommendations.

Wrapping up

Along with implementing the above suggestions, the social housing sector is awaiting the enactment of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill 2022-23, which at the time of writing was in the final stages of the consideration of amendments. The most crucial step for tenants living in damp and mouldy houses is to contact our Housing Disrepair Solicitors immediately so we can assess your situation and take steps to force your landlord to make your home safe and habitable.

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 or Housing Association 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.

Contact us today to discuss your claim.


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