Mould reporting in the spotlight as UK complaints double

Mould reporting in the spotlight as UK complaints double

The UK Government is under fire after it was revealed that the number of social housing tenants across England is on track to double in the two years since the death of Awaab Ishak, a two-year-old who died after living in a flat that had chronic mould. 

The ombudsman confirmed that complaints are expected to top 5,300 – in 2021, that number was less than 2,000. The complaints relate to reported outbreaks of damp, mould and leaking, but the housing ombudsman estimates that less than half of landlords are taking decisive action, and some are still blaming tenants for the issues. 

Awaab’s death in December 2020 was found to be driven by a respiratory illness caused by chronic mould in the family’s home, which they had reported to the landlord multiple times but for which no action was taken. 

“The inquest into the death of Awaab Ishak has focused the minds of the sector. But we are continually finding in our casework that landlords have not responded to this issue with sufficient urgency,” Richard Blakeway, of the Housing Ombudsman, said.

“It is disappointing when we conducted our review how few landlords had acted to implement a dedicated damp and mould policy, despite there being a clear and driving need to have a bespoke response for these reports given the shortcoming identified in our casework.”

Just this week, Clarion, which is one of the country’s largest social landlords, was found by the ombudsman to be responsible for “severe maladministration”, which included failing to fix mould in homes across Kent and London. 

The ombudsman made the same finding against Leeds city council last month, and while the chief executive of the National Housing Federation said that while some housing associations were working to improve the quality of homes, Blakeway reiterated that senior leaders needed “to go faster and further to do what is right by their residents.”

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