Damp and mould: the Health and safety risks for Housing Providers

On 7th September 2023, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) published a guidance document titled “Understanding and addressing the health risks of damp and mould in the home”.

The guidance is a direct response to the coroner’s report into the tragic death of Awaab Ishak in 2020.

This is the first of the published documents and is aimed predominantly at Registered Providers of Social Housing and their staff.

The guidance is clear. Landlords must ensure that the accommodation they provide is free from serious hazards, including damp and mould, and that homes are fit for habitation. Tenants should not be blamed for damp and mould, and damp and mould is not a “lifestyle problem”. Instead, it makes clear that it is the responsibility of the landlord to identify and address the underlying causes of the damp problem, such as inadequate ventilation and or structural issues.

The guidance details and expectations for how landlords should respond to any reports of damp and mould and encourages them to take a more proactive approach.

It also includes a useful overview of 5 main legal standards that relate to damp and mould and provides guidance on what landlords should consider when addressing reports.

It also includes practical steps which will help social landlords address the risk of damp and mould proactively. This includes a clear process which includes:

  • Having a clear process for tenants to report damp and mould
  • Having a clear process for other professionals (both internal staff and external contractors) to report damp and mould
  • Having a system which enables landlords to maintain up-to-date records on housing conditions and reports of damp and mould
  • Having a system which makes it clear what will happen because of a damp and mould report
  • Having a policy on how data from damp and mould reports is collected, stored and shared within the landlord’s organisation
  • Setting timescales to assess damp and mould
  • Having a system that includes a means to follow up and check treatment has been effective
  • Having a system which includes checks between tenancies
  • Ensuring all staff and contractors are aware of any damp and mould policy
  • Ensuring all processes are reviewed periodically
  • Ensuring all customer facing policies are accessible
  • Ensuring customers are consulted when strategies are developed

What impact will this have on Registered Providers of Social Housing?

All Social Landlords should implement this guidance.

It will likely lead to an increase in maintenance and repair costs, but in reality, most social landlords have been taking this proactive approach to damp and mould since the Housing Ombudsman’s Spotlight on Damp and Mould Report. That said, the guidance is a useful tool for Social Landlords, and they must now take steps to embed the recommendations included within.

Should you have any queries on the guidance and its impact, please do not hesitate to contact Thomas Stockton, Senior Associate Solicitor with the MSB Housing Conditions Team.

Law is correct as at 28th September 2023

>Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the law in this article is correct, it is intended to give a general overview of the law for educational purposes. You are respectfully reminded that it is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No liability is accepted for any error or omission contained herein.

Contact us, we are here to help

If you have any questions, please contact Senior Associate Solicitor, Tom Stockton, who would be happy to assist you: thomasstockton@msbsolicitors.co.uk