Mould ‘common and increasing’ issue for city tenants
Mould and damp is a “common and increasing” problem for tenants living in Gloucester, according to an official report. Civic chiefs launched a fact-finding mission earlier this year to better understand the housing conditions of thousands of people in the city.
This was prompted by the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in Rochdale in December 2020. The coroner linked the child’s death to prolonged exposure to mould in his home environment.
Gloucester City Council’s overview and scrutiny committee set up a task and finishing group to damp and mould in rented accommodation. They quizzed housing providers such as Gloucester City Homes,the Guinness Partnership, Bromford and Rooftop Housing which they say “provided councillors with confidence” in them.
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“It was clear that all social housing providers interviewed were responsive to damp and mould referrals from tenants and had clear reporting and resolution processes in place. The different approaches to annual property inspections were striking. Some social housing providers were willing to go the extra mile and to check in on vulnerable tenants through welfare checks.
“The task and finish group are mindful of staffing pressures; however it was felt that welfare checks were good practice which should be universally adopted.”
However, they also interviewed voluntary advice agencies Citizens Advice or Gloucester Law Centre and both raised concerns. They reported damp and mould was a common and increasing problem for tenants living in Gloucester, certainly in the private rented sector but also in social housing.
“It was confirmed that there had been an added increase in this enquiry area since the death of Awaab Ishak. It was interesting to note that one organisation had also seen more enquiries from medical professionals on behalf of patients who were concerned about health problems as a result of exposure to damp and mould,” the report continues.
The task and finish group project confirmed that damp and mould is a problem in Gloucester, however the council will need to await the outcome of a private sector housing stock survey to confirm the full extent and severity of the issue.
The group recommends the council should implement a city-wide landlord accreditation scheme to promote responsible renting. The scheme would provide certification that the council is satisfied that the landlord complies with their legal obligation, they believe.
The recommendations also include lobbying in support of the Renters (Reform) Bill to impose a national registration scheme for landlords of private rental properties in England. And the council should publicise any enforcement action it takes against rogue landlords who are not complying with their obligations.