The UK Government has published new guidance aimed at addressing the issue of damp and mould in rental properties. This initiative comes in response to the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who passed away due to prolonged exposure to mould in a flat managed by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. Housing Secretary Michael Gove had previously pledged to conduct a “rapid review” of existing guidance regarding the health impacts of damp and mould in homes, following the recommendations made by Senior Coroner Joanne Kearsley in her ‘prevention of future deaths’ report, stemming from Awaab’s inquest.
The newly released guidance is designed to tackle the concerns highlighted in Ms. Kearsley’s report and includes information on the health effects of damp and mould, the groups of people at higher risk, and the legal standards governing damp and mould in rented homes. It also offers insights into how to identify and mitigate the risk of damp and mould development in residential properties.
This guidance has been jointly developed by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), and the UK Health Security Agency. It applies to all types of accommodation providers, encompassing social landlords, private landlords, managing agents, and temporary accommodation providers. It also extends its coverage to providers of asylum support accommodation and accommodation for ex-offenders.
Key recommendations within the guidance include landlords establishing clear processes for tenants to report damp and mould issues, particularly emphasizing the importance of automated systems for property management in cases where there are numerous properties. It also recommends having procedures for both internal and external professionals to report concerns about damp and mould, along with defined timescales for assessment and remedial work. Moreover, it emphasizes the need for accessible tenant-facing policies and processes that communicate clearly and sensitively with residents, taking into account potential language, cultural, disability, and neurodiversity barriers.