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More than a thousand private rented homes have dangerous levels of damp or mould

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

Local councils in England have around 1,106 privately rented homes with dangerous levels of damp or mould, with campaigners calling on Awaab’s Law to be broadened to cover private renting households.

Generation Rent used a Freedom of Information Act to ask 115 councils in England about enforcement of housing standards. This covers around three million privately rented households or 64% of the private tenant population.

Around 65 councils reported that they had received around 60,849 complaints about standards in rented housing. This includes 8,047 complaints about damp and mould.

The council with the highest rates of complaints around damp or mould were Wolverhampton (69% of all complaints concerned damp or mould), with Salford (60%) and Swindon (50%).

Of the 69 councils reporting a breakdown of those hazards, 7,695 outlined Category One hazards. These are a serious or immediate risk to a person’s health or safety.

There were around 1,106 cases of damp or mould or 14% of all hazards.

Councils where damp and mould was the largest type of hazard were Bath (70%) and Greenwich (58%) and Brent (44%).

Following a Category One hazard, councils are supposed to issue landlords with an improvement notice, which protects tenants from a “retaliatory Section 21 eviction notice” and allows tenants to claim back rent if landlords fail to resolve the issue.

This means private tenants had a 24% chance of securing formal protection if their home was found to be unsafe.

Awaab’s Law needs to be extended

WIth these conditions in mind, Genration Rent has called upon the Governmnet to extend ‘Awaab’s Law’  to include privately rented households. Parliament is currently debating

Awaab’s Law, which is currently being discussed in Parliament, would set strict timescales for social landlords to respond to complaints about damp and mould. The law comes after two-year-old Awaab Ishak tragically died due to damp and mould in his home earlier this year.

Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said: “Too many renters are living in homes with dangerous levels of damp and mould, which can cause respiratory diseases and damage personal possessions. The government needs to take the issue of mould and damp in privately-rented homes far more seriously.

“Landlords, whether they are huge housing associations, or an individual letting out their former home, have one job: to provide their tenants with a safe home. Too many try to dodge their responsibilities by blaming tenants or serving a no-fault eviction notice.”

She added: “Without action to protect tenants in their homes and hold landlords in both sectors accountable for the safety of their properties, thousands of people will continue to live in homes that are making them ill.”