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Nearly three million rented homes suffer from cold, damp or mouldy conditions

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

More than half of private renters in England are struggling with cold, damp or mould, with many suffering from more than one of these issues.

Research from Citizens Advice found that around 1.6 million children were currently living in private rented homes affected by damp, mould or excessive cold.

It added that the problem was exacerbated by less energy efficiency homes, with nearly three quarters of private tenants more likely to live with damp if the property had an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) between D and G rather than A to C.

Citizens Advice added that 89% of tenants were more likely to experience extreme cold if they lived in a D to G-rated property as opposed to an A to C-rated property.

Private tenants pay more on heating

The organisation also noted private tenants were paying around £350 more on heating per year due to poorly insulated or damp homes and those in the least energy efficient properties were shelling out an extra £950 per year.

With energy bills expected to rise further in April, those in the least energy efficient properties could pay around £1,190 more a year to stay warm.

Around 40% of renters said they have felt stressed due to damp, mould and excessive cold, and over a third said that it made them feel anxious.

Government needs to take action

Citizens Advice has called on the Government to bring forward legislation that would bring the private rented sector in-line with social housing by applying the same standards set out by Awaab’s Law.

Awaab’s Law, which is a tabled amendment to the Social Housing Regulation Act, would require social housing landlords to fix health hazards such as damp and mould in strict timeframes.

The amendment was introduced following the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak who died as a result of mould in his family home last year, despite complaints to the housing association about poor conditions.

The organisation has also urged the Government to follow through on its promise to mandate that all new tenancies should have an EPC rating of C or higher by 2025 and for all tenancies by 2028.

The Minimum Energy Performance of Buildings Bill has had its first reading in the House of Commons, and is currently awaiting its second reading.

Citizens Advice: ‘Shameful that people are still suffering’

Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy at Citizens Advice, said: “Every week we hear stories of people living in cold, damp and mouldy properties they can’t afford to heat properly.

“It’s shameful that more than 20 years since legislation came into force to reduce fuel poverty and improve the energy performance of homes, people are still suffering.”

She added: “Improving energy efficiency in privately rented homes has never been more urgent. It’s the step needed to keep people’s essential bills low, while also helping to protect their mental and physical health.”