Housing standards reviewed amid growing safety concerns

UK ministers have claimed a rapid review of guidance surrounding mould and damp in households will take place this year, following the death of a toddler. 

In November 2022, two-year-old Awaab Ishak died from a respiratory condition caused by exposure to too much mould in his home, an inquest found.

New guidance is set to come into place in summer and after the coroner for North Manchester, Joanne Kearsley, instructed ministers to act to ‘prevent future deaths’ after she concluded the toddler died from prologued exposure to mould in his flat in Rochdale.

Housing Secretary, Michael Gove, and Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, said: ‘Awaab Ishak’s death was a tragedy that should never have occurred. People across the country were horrified to hear about the terrible circumstances it led to.

‘Awaab’s case has thrown into sharp relief the need for renewed action to ensure that every landlord in the country makes certain that their tenants are housed in decent homes, and they are treated with dignity and fairness.’

As well as ruling Awaab’s case, Ms Kearsley told Mr Gove and Mr Barclay in November last year, the government’s 16-year-old housing safety rating system did not reflect the known health risks posed by damp and mould.

The corner also uncovered that private renters do not have access to the housing ombudsman to have complaints investigated independently and claimed it was unlawful for social landlords to wait for agreement from tenants before fixing faults.

In addition to Awaab’s case, last week two children were admitted to hospital with lung problems after living in a mouldy council flat in Greenwich. Despite carrying out work on leaks that had been found in the property in 2021, the council have stated they are now looking to re-home the family ASAP.

According to the 2021 census report, the number of people deciding to rent has more than doubled in the last two decades across England and Wales, suggesting the dire need to ensure everyone remains safe.

A survey conducted by the English Housing Survey also displayed that when it comes to renting properties, five million households are now let by a private landlord. However, despite this large figure, a quarter of homes were rated ‘non-decent’, with one in 10 suffering a damp problem.

Photo by jessica rigollot


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