• A new strategy to improve homes and health for thousands of residents by tackling the blight of damp and mould in homes across the rented housing sector in Newham.
Yesterday (9 November 2023) Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz OBE and her Cabinet agreed the final version of the Damp and Mould Strategy which will improve conditions in rented homes across the borough – from Council to the private rented sector and temporary accommodation.
Cabinet member for Housing, Councillor Shaban Mohammed said: “For decades, the neglect of the housing system has led to widespread issues of damp and mould, causing distress and in extreme cases serious health implications for residents. The historic tendency to blame tenants for damp problems alongside the chronic lack of investment in UK's housing, has led to widespread misery and harm.
“We know that much of our housing stock is aging making it more vulnerable to damp and mould, but we are investing £74m to make improvements to reduce the likelihood of penetrating damp through walls, roofs and windows, as well as tackling maintenance and improving the warmth and energy-efficiency of homes.
“The tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak from damp and mould related illness in Rochdale quite rightly led to a national outcry – not least from the Government – however there’s been little action.
“Our residents can’t wait for the Government to finally recognise the need to tackle the broken housing sector, so this strategy marks our commitment to improve the lives of thousands of our residents.”
Even before Awaab’s death was highlighted by a coroner in 2022, Newham council had launched a Damp and Mould Task Force to measure the scale of the problem.
The Damp and Mould Strategy and Action Plan follows through on the work begun by the Task Force and sets out a council-wide approach to tackling damp and mould – with a caring and non-blaming approach to identifying and treating affected homes.
The Strategy is holistic – a unified Council effort, with collaboration across departments and with the health and voluntary sector. It defines both how rapid response to reports of damp and mould are dealt with and lays out the proactive and long-term measures to prevent recurrence.
The Strategy has been informed by residents’ experience gleaned from a public consultation with them, as well as private landlords, the voluntary sector and other key stakeholders.
The Strategy is divided into three principal areas of action: Council homes, the private rented sector and temporary accommodation.
In Council owned homes the Damp and Mould Taskforce, which was established in 2021, has been addressing issues and has received over 2,100 enquiries and with over £8m spent on repairs.
In the private rented sector, Newham’s property licensing schemes allows officers to proactively inspect homes to ensure that they meet the standards set out in the licence conditions, including being free from damp and mould. Landlords who fail to act face formal enforcement action such as financial penalty notices. This will also include “nightly-paid” temporary accommodation.
Temporary accommodation rented by the Council will be subject to a contract which includes a pre-inspection to ensure it is dry and mould-free. Temporary accommodation which already rented by the us will be subject to a planned rolling inspection programme targeting around 25 properties per week, with a plan to increase this to 40.
You can view the Damp and Mould Strategy and Action Plan 2023-25 here (PDF)