In the news this week, we’ve heard the awful story of two-year old Awaab Ishak, who died as a result of chronic mould in his family’s social housing flat in Rochdale. Awaab’s death was tragic and avoidable, and at the inquest the coroner said that it should be a “defining moment” for the housing sector. It has certainly prompted reflection for many of us here.
At the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT), we work hard to ensure that our properties meet the Decent Homes Standard and are safe to live in, but there is always more to be done and we are never complacent about these types of matters.
This autumn, the JRHT Board took a deep dive into complaints about tenant safety and looked in detail at complaints we have received about damp and mould. We are satisfied that the information we hold suggests that when damp and mould issues are escalated into complaints, or reported by residents as repairs, they are dealt with effectively. However, we recognise that there is more we can do and we are committed to moving to a more proactive approach to identifying issues with damp and mould in our homes, ensuring that our response to these issues is adequate, and identifying any improvements that can be made.
The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has now written to all registered providers seeking assurance that they have a clear understanding and a strong grip on damp and mould issues in their homes, and that they are addressing the risks to tenants’ and residents’ health. JRHT are currently gathering data and evidence in response to the request from RSH, and welcome the opportunity to work with the regulator to improve conditions for tenants and residents.