Social housing landlords warned to improve mould conditions

Social housing landlords warned to improve mould conditions

11:53 AM, 2nd February 2023, About A year ago 19

Text Size

There are between 120,000 to 160,000 social housing properties in England that have notable issues with damp and mould, the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) says.

And up to 80,000 of those homes have ‘serious issues’.

The revelation comes after the RSH wrote to all social housing landlords in November in the wake of the inquest into the death of Rochdale toddler Awaab Ishak.

That’s when a coroner ruled that the two-year old had died from a respiratory condition that had been caused by exposure to mould in his home.

The boy’s father says he repeatedly raised the issue of mould with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing but they took no action.

‘Tenants deserve quality services and homes’

The RSH’s chief executive, Fiona MacGregor, said: “Tenants deserve quality services and homes that are safe and of a decent standard.

“Where there are issues, landlords need to act now to put things right, before we start our active consumer regulation including inspections of providers.”

She added: “We expect all providers to continue to look at how they can improve the way they identify and address damp and mould.”

The RSH estimates that:

  • Less than 0.2% of social homes have the most serious damp and mould problems
  • 1-2% have serious damp and mould problems
  • 3-4% have notable damp and mould.

‘Appreciate the extent of mould and damp in their tenants’ homes’

In a report on the findings, the RSH says that most social landlords in England appreciate the extent of mould and damp in their tenants’ homes and are taking action to deal with it.

However, the RSH says they could ‘strengthen their approach’.

The report also highlights that most tenants in social housing are living in a property that is free from mould and when these problems are identified, landlords need to address them effectively and promptly.

The report also warns that some social housing landlords had submitted poor quality responses that lacked detail leading the RSH to reveal that it has no confidence in their approach to dealing with mould and damp issues.

Those landlords who submitted poor quality responses will now be contacted directly by the RSH – as will those landlords who report high numbers of mould and cases.

Councils fully support efforts for inspecting homes

In response, the Local Government Association (LGA) says that it is determined to improve housing conditions and that councils fully support efforts for inspecting homes and boosting standards in the social housing and also in the private rented sector.

The LGA’s housing spokesperson, Coun Darren Rodwell, said: “We recognise the findings of this report.

“Councils continue to fully support efforts to inspect homes and drive up standards in both the social housing and private rented sector.

“While this study shows that the vast majority of social housing is safe and decent, councils are determined to improve housing conditions for all social and private tenants.”

He added: “The LGA continues to work with professional bodies, as well as the Government, to discuss possible solutions on improving housing standards – including those relating to damp and mould in tenanted properties.”

Share This Article


Anne Nixon

12:53 PM, 2nd February 2023, About A year ago

Not sticking up for social housing providers at all but I wonder how much of this problem is caused by tenant lifestyle not actually the building itself.
I say that because I have just had a change of tenant in one of my properties where there has never been a problem with mould previously and in under two months of the new tenants moving in there was a big problem, heavy staining with mould in the corners of the rooms, around windows and behind furniture.
It evolved incredibly quickly.and of course I'm working to mitigate it but . .


12:58 PM, 2nd February 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Anne Nixon at 02/02/2023 - 12:53
If you dry washing in rooms with open windows, run tumble driers in rooms with no ventilation, or just turn the heating off and close the windows then you will get mould forming. And you'll get that even in an insulated property. And some properties have cold spots even if they are in a reasonable state of repair. That tends to be where the mould forms when the heating is turned off. If you shower, or bathe in a bathroom and don't open the window to ventilate mould will form and form quite quickly.

So yes, mould is often a consequence of tenant behaviour.

Seething Landlord

16:46 PM, 2nd February 2023, About A year ago

Why is it always the default response of landlords to blame the tenant for these problems or to trot out their own anecdotes along these lines? This is just the sort of attitude that pervades the rental industry and has given rise to the failure to address the issues.

What should be manifestly obvious from the recent cases and the government response is that no landlord can afford to ignore a report of mould and must carry out investigations to establish and deal with the cause without delay.

It would not surprise me if the decent homes standard is extended to include a requirement to provide adequate facilities for drying clothes, rather than leaving tenants to use radiators for that purpose as in many cases they have no reasonable alternative.


16:55 PM, 2nd February 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 02/02/2023 - 16:46
The last time I had a big problem with mould it was because I had rented the property to a tenant who needed a short-term let because their own property had been flooded. When the let ended I got back to the property and found that they had left some time before and turned the power off because they did not want to pay the heating bill. I found fermenting food in the deep freeze in the property and mould in many of the rooms. I had to treat the mould and overpaint. But that's not because the property had a problem.

The problem was that it was an insurance job. So they didn't care about the property; as far as they were concerned the insurance company was paying anyway. They did care about the heating bill because they were paying that; and so they just turned the heating off.

I believe it is standard in an AST to require the tenant to adequately heat a property. And if they don't do it that is not the landlord's fault.

Anne Nixon

17:07 PM, 2nd February 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 02/02/2023 - 16:46
"the default response of landlords to blame the tenant for these problems"
Because it WAS the tenant to blame, it's as simple as that.
Someone's experience cannot be negated just because it's an inconvenient truth.
The conditions in which mould grows can easily be avoided, but it's down to educating people about it. If they don't know then they can't avoid it. . . .right?
The moisture emating from towels being dried on the radiator has not just disappeared, it is still there in the air and it will find the coolest place to settle, usually an exterior wall. Once that information has been shared and understood then it all falls into place.
What do you suggest then, keep schtum about the causes of condensation mould in case someone is offended? Sheesh....


17:21 PM, 2nd February 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Anne Nixon at 02/02/2023 - 17:07
That's correct. In fact, in my own home I recently had an issue because one of the windows failed in one of my ensuite's such that I had to leave it locked closed whilst I found someone to fix it. The mould had formed within a week even though there's a ventilator fan in the room, which we did run. If a tenant chooses to keep the window closed and not run the fan but still have baths/showers then mould will form; and that's not the landlord's fault.

So whilst it's certainly true that sometimes there can be problems with a property that ought to be sorted out, it cannot be an automatic assumption that presence of mould is down to the landlord.

Seething Landlord

22:29 PM, 2nd February 2023, About A year ago

I see that I have rattled a couple of cages, which is what I expected. By all means blame the tenant but if you have not taken adequate steps to educate them and remove any underlying cause of the problem don't expect a soft ride from the local authority if they carry out an inspection.

The view of the government and the housing ombudsman is that the tenant should not be blamed for mould, which they see as the automatic response from landlords and will no longer tolerate.


9:07 AM, 3rd February 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 02/02/2023 - 22:29
I think the point is not blame the tenant or blame the landlord; the presence of mould is something that needs investigation. And perhaps that's an opportunity to educate tenants.

Seething Landlord

10:04 AM, 3rd February 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Beaver at 03/02/2023 - 09:07
Absolutely, that's the point I was trying to make. The trouble is that because many landlords have in the past immediately blamed the tenant when mould is reported, we are now faced with the authorities presuming the opposite i.e. that fault lies with the landlord.

In both cases it is what lawyers would call a rebuttable presumption, but we will now have to prove that the tenant's lifestyle is the cause and that there is nothing wrong with the property that has caused or contributed to the problem.


11:29 AM, 3rd February 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 03/02/2023 - 10:04
Agreed: So you need good records of maintenance.

1 2

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now