Severe Impacts of Damp and Mould in Homes
Damp and mould at home increases the risk of having problems with respiratory, allergies or asthma. In November 2022, damp and mould exposure led to the death of 2-year old Awaab Ishak in Rochdale which was caused by a serious respiratory condition at home. Local authorities across the UK have since taken action, urging landlords to remove and prevent further instances of damp and mould in homes.
“Damp and Mould is a core component of Housing and is something incredibly important to the residents of any authority. As we move increasingly towards a housing market dominated by renting, these kinds of inspections are only going to increase.”
~ Jacques Shepherd, Lead of the Residential Division at Buckingham Futures
Causes of damp and mould
Experts who inspect properties have shared the most common ways damp and mould exists in people’s homes.
- Occurs when extra moisture in the air comes into contact with cold surfaces like a window or a cold wall.
- Poor insulation, faulty heating and ventilation systems can lead to dampness
- In Winter, there is a higher risk of mould growth due to lack of ventilation or heat in your home.
- Occurs when water in the ground enters properties by travelling through pores and holes of bricks and concrete.
- Older properties (especially buildings) are vulnerable to rising damp.
- Rising damp mainly affects ground floor properties.
- Poor repairs and lack of maintenance can be factors of rising dampness.
- Occurs when water (i.e. rainwater) comes through external walls or the roof.
- An internal leak or plumbing issues can lead to dampness.
- Occurs when there is a design defect in new and existing properties.
- Large amounts of water is used for construction (concreting, bricklaying, plastering, painting, etc.) including rainwater. If new builds are not properly dried out, then properties can retain high amounts of moisture.
The investigations into the mistakes from local authorities
Reports from the Housing Ombudsman (body dealing with social housing complaints) found many complaints have been ignored when flagged by tenants in council-owned homes. Data during these last 2 years have shown:
- 5 severe cases of maladministration findings include vulnerable children exposed to damp and mould at homes.
- Landlords have been found to neglect complaints of mould, where one landlord has taken 18 months to repair “rotting” windows.
- In 2021, data from over 10,000 homes found 55% complaints of Maladministration.
Source: Data from the Housing Ombudsman Service UK
Darlington Borough Council (North East England) states their new policy
“We have a legal responsibility to manage repairs and complete any work required to prevent damp, condensation and mould occurring. It is also important that tenants report any issues, so we can work quickly to help resolve the problems.
We recognise the impact that damp, condensation, and mould can have on our tenants, including distress, inconvenience and concerns about health and wellbeing.
We will ensure that we take prompt action to remedy issues and support our tenants, offering guidance, advice, and assistance throughout the process to all tenants living in Council properties.”
Read The NHS UK (National Health Service) article on Damp and Mould
It is important to target damp and mould before it becomes difficult to deal with, but whose responsibility is it to remove this? Lookout for our blog next week.
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