RCP Calls on Government to Take Urgent Action on Damp and Mould

RCP Calls on Government to Take Urgent Action on Damp and Mould

In January 2023, we wrote an article on the action being taken by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) to warn social housing providers about their obligations to prevent mould and damp. This came in the wake of the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak from a respiratory condition exacerbated by damp and mould in a social housing property in Rochdale. Following Awaab’s death, a Senior Coroner stated, “The tragic death of Awaab will and should be a defining moment for the housing sector in terms of increasing knowledge, increasing awareness and a deepening of understanding surrounding the issue of damp and mould”.

Unfortunately, damp and mould continue to plague social and rented homes, with many more suffering serious and life-threatening health problems in the past year. In a bid to compel the government to take urgent action regarding damp and mould, the RCP has issued a warning of the consequences and ongoing health implications. In this article, we will discuss how the scale of the health impacts of Britain’s damp and mouldy rental homes shows no obvious signs of improvement in 2024 and the warning RCP to the government.

Tenants continue to suffer the health implications of damp and mould

According to recent research, 88,000 households in the social housing sector currently have serious damp and mould problems. An investigation by the Observer newspaper has also shown that private housing providers are not being held to account for their inaction in resolving damp and mould problems. They revealed that of the 2,907 rulings made by the housing ombudsman in the past three years, the average financial penalty for housing associations was just £445. As Suzanne Muna, who represents the Social Housing Action Campaign, explained, “It is obvious that such weak sanctions make little impact, and they certainly don’t drive strategic change.”

Over the past year, there have been several high-profile news stories covering the devastating health impacts of damp and black mould in homes. One recent case concerned Morgan Sinnott, who suffers from a rare genetic condition called ‘Wolfram Syndrome’, which makes her especially vulnerable to respiratory illnesses. Ms Sinnott was admitted to hospital in a life-threatening condition after contracting pneumonia for the third time to mould in her home. Such cases only underline the frustration and fear felt by many in private rentals and social housing with mould and damp problems whose landlords are not taking the necessary action to resolve property defects.

RCP calls on government to take urgent action on damp and mould

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) recently called on Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities of the United Kingdom, to speed up a promised crackdown on landlords who are failing to remedy mouldy homes. The RCP warned that without a much-needed tightening of the laws in this area, many more will die from the impacts of inhaling fungal toxins. Mr Gove has previously promised to set robust deadlines by which landlords must resolve.

According to Professor Sir Stephen Holgate, special adviser on air quality to the RCP, urgent reform is needed due to a combination of adverse weather, tenants keeping windows closed to preserve warmth and save on energy costs, and fungus becoming increasingly resilient to treatment.

Professor Holgate believes that action to resolve the mould and damp challenges is being delayed by “obfuscation, debate and committees” and that the UK should mirror Germany’s “zero tolerance” approach to the problem. He said, “We know this is an ongoing problem. We know housing in this country is in a dreadful state … The science of [the risks of mould exposure] hasn’t been accepted strongly enough by the regulators. This passive approach is failing society”.


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What are my rights if I have mould in my rented property?

In the first instance, if you have damp and mould in your property, taking remedial action may be enough to prevent its spread. This may include opening windows to increase ventilation, covering pans when cooking, opening internal doors, closing the door when showering, and removing moisture on windows each morning. It may also be useful to look at the UK Centre for Moisture for Buildings online tool for other tips to reduce the level of moisture in your home. Unfortunately, taking such action may not be enough to properly resolve dampness and mould, in which case, it is essential that you inform your landlord immediately.

Once informed, your landlord will need access to the property to look for the reasons for the damp. If the damp problem is serious, your landlord must act quickly to resolve its cause/s. Depending on the problem, your landlord must then take action to repair the issue; this may include fixing structural problems, damp proofing, faulty installations, leaking pipes, ventilation problems (e.g. by fitting improved ventilation), boiler and heating system, drainage issues, rotten windows, damp wallpaper, damaged or missing roof tiles.

If your landlord still does not take the appropriate action, you should inform your local authority’s environmental health department, who can order your landlord to take action.

If you are in social housing, your landlord may request an inspection and report by an expert on the problem (you should receive a copy of the report, too). If there is still insufficient action, it is vital that you contact an experienced Housing Disrepair Solicitor who can assist you with getting repairs done to eliminate the mould and damp, as well as claiming compensation.

Wrapping up

Given the lack of action regarding damp and mould in social housing in the UK, it is likely that matters will continue to get worse before they get better when landlords are legally and financially compelled to take action.

If you believe that your social housing property contains dampness and mould, it is imperative that you talk to a Housing Disrepair Solicitor. They will guide and represent you throughout the claim process, ensuring a quick and amicable resolution to ensure the health and well-being of you and your family. You do not have to fight for a mould and damp-free home all by yourself. An experienced Solicitor will take the stress off your shoulders so you and your family can get on with your life in a healthy, happy environment.

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 carry out 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.

Nicholson Jones Sutton Solicitors can usually handle Housing Disrepair Claims on a No Win No Fee basis.

Call or email us today to discuss your claim.


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