New Government guidance has been published to ensure that families up and down the country who rent their property have the right to a warm, secure and decent home and to be treated with dignity and fairness.
It is estimated that between 962,000 to 6.5 million households in England suffer from the presence of damp, condensation and mould due to poor ventilation and other property maintenance issues; and this poses health risks.
The tragic death of 2-year-old Awaab Ishak in 2020, which was attributed to prolonged exposure to damp conditions and mould, served as the catalyst for crafting this new guidance.
Formulated by a panel of experts specialising in housing, health, and dampness and mould, it is an integral part of the government’s broader initiative to enhance the quality of rented properties.
What the Government are Saying
A ministerial foreword endorsed by The Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has stated the following:
- Every person across this country deserves to live in a home that is safe, warm, and dry. The tragic passing of 2-year-old Awaab Ishak in 2020, due to mould in his family home, should never happen to another family.
- This guidance, developed in consultation with experts in housing and health, is a direct response to the Coroner’s report. It ensures that landlords understand their legal responsibilities and the serious health risks posed by damp and mould.
- Landlords must ensure that the accommodation they provide is free from hazards like damp and mould, treating cases promptly to protect their tenants’ health.
- Moreover, tenants should not be blamed for damp and mould. It is the responsibility of landlords to address the underlying causes, such as structural issues or inadequate ventilation.
The Government have also committed to ensuring a decent standard of housing for tenants by implementing the flowing:
- Introduce ‘Awaab’s Law’ to set out new requirements for landlords to address hazards such as damp and mould in social homes. Following a consultation, we’ll bring these into force as soon as Parliamentary time allows
- Provide new powers for the Housing Ombudsman and change the law so that social housing residents can complain directly to the Ombudsman
- Review the Decent Homes Standard and apply it to private rented homes for the first time
- Introduce new professionalisation standards that will require senior housing staff to hold, or work towards, recognised housing management qualifications
- Introduce the new private rented property portal and give all private tenants access to an ombudsman if their landlord fails to resolve legitimate complaints
What This Means for the Housing Sector
While this guidance primarily targets social and private rented housing providers in England, It encompasses various accommodation providers, from social landlords to private landlords and managing agents.
Landlords, both in the private and social sectors, must adhere to various regulations concerning damp and mould and non-compliance can lead to legal consequences.
Adherence to regulations will mean that landlords must respond promptly and sensitively, assessing the severity of the issue and taking immediate action to protect their tenant’s physical and mental health. Medical evidence from the tenant is not a prerequisite for action and damp and mould should always be addressed promptly to protect tenant health.
Landlords should adopt a proactive stance in identifying and addressing damp and mould, including understanding the condition of their properties and making necessary interventions.
Irrespective of the type of damp in the property, landlords are legally responsible for addressing damp and mould and should work with qualified professionals.
How Peter Cox can Help
Our CSRT/CSTDB qualified surveyors can assist landlords in identifying the true cause of damp in a property and safely install the correct solution for the problem. Using qualified professionals from a trade body approved provider will prevent any misdiagnosis of a damp issue and ensure the correct remediation is applied.
We can also provide training for those in tenant-facing roles in the form of CPD seminars or on-site training. These allow us to pass on knowledge of damp and condensation issues, allowing anyone who is bound by the regulations above to understand how the condition of their properties can contribute to damp and mould.
In addition to the above, the government guidance is also recommending that in more complex cases, landlords should seek guidance from a qualified professional about other forms of physical testing, such as thermography and environmental monitoring. This is also something we can help with with solutions such as our air quality monitor.
To find out more about some of the solutions we can offer, visit our treatment pages below: