10:16 AM, 3rd March 2023, About 12 months ago 2
Planned legislation known as ‘Awaab’s law’ that will make councils and housing associations fix reported health hazards – including damp and mould – within strict new time limits should be extended to private rented homes too, one council suggests.
Oxford City Council is following in the footsteps of Citizens’ Advice which made a similar call last week.
It says that tenants living in homes with damp and mould are more likely to have respiratory problems, allergies or asthma.
The council also says that damp and mould can affect a tenant’s immune system and have a negative impact on their mental health.
The new law follows the case last November when a coroner found that mould had caused the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak at his home in Rochdale in 2020.
Coun Linda Smith, Oxford’s cabinet member for housing, said: “If the government is really serious about tackling damp and mould it should extend Awaab’s law to cover all rented homes and not just social housing.
“We’d also like to see better protection for all tenants in HHSRS guidance.
“We should be able to treat damp and mould as category 1 hazards and this would have the added benefit of providing a better picture of the extent of the problem in England.”
Ms Smith added: “This is an issue we take very seriously, and I would urge our tenants to report problems with damp and mould in their homes.”
In a letter to secretary of state Michael Gove, the council has also outlined how current safety guidance provides inadequate protection for tenants and leads to an underreporting of damp and mould in private rented homes.
The housing, health and safety rating system (HHSRS) assesses hazards in the home based on the likelihood and severity of the harm they could cause.
Although councils must take enforcement action against the most serious – category 1 – hazards, in most cases the HHSRS assesses damp and mould as a less serious category 2 risk.
While it is one of the most common problems found during inspections, the council must now typically use other HHSRS hazards like excess cold to effectively tackle damp and mould in private rented homes.
This also means that the council, it claims, reports far fewer cases of damp and mould to central government than it is dealing with.
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