CIEH Housing Advisory Panel says guidance is a “game changer” that will improve housing conditions
The government has issued new guidance on mould and damp in rented homes following the Coroner’s ‘prevention of future deaths’ report into the death of two year-old Awaab Ishak.
The Coroner’s report described a catalogue of failures and expressed concern that: “There was no evidence that up-to-date relevant health information pertinent to the risk of damp and mould was easily accessible to the housing sector.”
This report prompted Housing Secretary Michael Gove to promise a rapid review of existing guidance on the health impacts of damp and mould in homes. The new guidance will address the Coroner’s concerns and actions to be taken. It provides information on the health effects of damp and mould, and the legal standards in rented homes.
The guidance builds on Awaab’s Law and covers identifying and reducing the risk of damp and mould developing in people’s homes. It applies to social landlords, private landlords and managing agents, and temporary accommodation providers.
Jonathan Rolande, Founder of the National Association of Property Buyers welcomed the guidance: “It is a reminder to all landlords that they must let property that is fit for habitation and free of hazards. Dampness and mould disproportionately affect groups such as low-income, disability and ethnic minorities.”
“This strong reminder to landlords that they must proactively assist in damp prevention, which is of benefit to their tenant as well as their property, is long overdue.”
Rolande said there are often several contributing factors to damp ingress and causes are often initially unclear and require trial and error to remedy: “This strong reminder to landlords that they must proactively assist in damp prevention, which is of benefit to their tenant as well as their property, is long overdue.”
The guidance reminds landlords that they must take residents’ concerns seriously and address them with urgency, especially when concerns have been raised about a tenant’s health, and to consider barriers related to language, culture, disability and/or neurodiversity that tenants may face.
Key recommendations include clear processes for tenants to report issues, and that landlords with large numbers of properties have automated systems in place to manage reports. There should be clear processes for other professionals, staff and contractors to report concerns, and timescales, reviewed periodically, should be set to assess damp and mould and carry out remedial work.
Ian Sanders, CIEH Housing Advisory Panel member served on the advisory group that provided expert input into the development of the guidance. He described the guidance as a ‘game changer’.
“I was able to share on-the-ground experience of what Environmental Health Officers find when inspecting properties,” he said. “The guidance will help change landlords’ attitude to damp and mould and improve housing conditions. The advisory group really listened to the realities of what some of the homes in our country are like, and it gives me a huge sense of achievement to know that we’ve made a real difference, that the profession was heard, and our advice was acted upon.”
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