The damp and mould crisis in English social housing affects up to 160,000 homes, confirmed in a report by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH).
Following an investigation into dampness and mould in the social housing sector, sparked by the inquest of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, a report issued by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) revealed that between 120,000 and 160,000 of England’s four million social homes contain notable levels of dampness and mould.
Between 40,000 and 80,000 homes have a Category 2 damp and mould hazard, while 8,000 are in the highest risk category 1, which poses an immediate health risk, as assessed by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
In November, the regulator mandated all social landlords to show adequacy in their properties’ knowledge of damp and mould issues, and to demonstrate they are working to mitigate any risks to tenants.
The RSH highlighted that much of the submitted evidence was inadequate and a large portion of providers had limited information on damp or mould in their homes. They suggested there was more work to be done, as most providers could benefit from having a better understanding of their properties.
The RSH noted that most landlords had displayed a dedication to tackling damp and mould, producing positive changes in their approach over the past 12 months.
The findings revealed that the majority of social tenants’ dwell in homes that are exempt from damp and mould, yet for those suffering from the issue, it can have a detrimental effect on their health and well-being.
However, a minority of landlords submitted poor-quality responses that “lacked the detail needed for RSH to have confidence about their approach to tackling damp and mould”.
Poorer responses relied more heavily on reactive approaches to identifying problems than proactively looking for evidence of damp and mould through surveys of their homes.
They had less data sources or refreshed their data at an irregular pace, which resulted in weaker evidence about their assurance, oversight, and insight into the condition of homes.
According to the regulator, the strongest responses from landlords “demonstrated robust data” on the condition of tenants’ homes.
In addition, they had a rigorous approach to investigating and addressing the fundamental issues of damp and mould, as well as strong governance from boards and councillors.
They routinely refreshed the data on stocks, recorded repairs, and pointed out risks.
Consequently, the RSH will pursue contact with landlords who have reported high levels of mould and damp, to ensure that all providers concentrate on how to enhance their system for detecting and dealing with such problems and said “We expect all providers to continue to look at how they can improve the way they identify and address damp and mould.”
The social housing sector in the UK encompasses over 5 million homes, and this number is increasing. Consequently, resources and skills required to effectively manage property inventories to collect, store and review data are becoming increasingly stretched. The situation can only be expected to worsen as populations continue to rise.
Remote monitoring can be an effective, economical way to watch for the dangers of damp and mould. Additionally, it provides insight into environmental conditions that may cause mould growth and may give warning to homes in threat of fuel poverty.
Gathering data on patterns over time provides a helpful body of evidence, which can then be used to enhance operational measures, prompting repairs or customer service agents to take action. Furthermore, this ensures that any steps taken can be measured for success and avoids a recurrence.
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