Toddler Dies - Exposure to mould in rented property.

Toddler Awaab Ishak is tragically the latest victim of exposure to mould in a social housing property he shared with his family in Rochdale.

The shocking death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak is something out of a Dickensian novel. How in 2023 can we be hearing such appalling news? At his inquest last year a coroner ruled the youngster died as a direct result of exposure to mould in his housing association home in Rochdale. His family had repeatedly reported the issue to the housing provider, yet no action was taken.

Whilst mould can be attributed to tenants in some instances, for example, drying wet clothes on radiators, not airing rooms, not using heating when needed and overcrowding rooms with people and furniture pushed up against walls. When landlords do not take action when the mould is caused by something under their jurisdiction, serious consequences can ensue for failing to meet basic property standards.


As expected, there’s a ton of it to protect our most vulnerable tenants. With around 170 individual pieces of legislation, rules mean nothing if landlords turn a blind eye safe in the knowledge that their legal obligations will not be enforced. While Awaab died because of conditions in social housing, we know this is not an issue confined to that sector alone.

It's a fact that many landlords take their responsibilities very seriously and provide good-quality homes for their tenants. As is always the case, the few that don’t bring the rest of us down in terms of perception.

New research

New figures from the NRLA, taken from Freedom of Information requests submitted to local authorities, show councils are struggling to cope with the enormity of the task.

Of the 277 councils in England to respond, more than a third admitted they hadn’t carried out a condition survey of their housing stock in the last 10 years.

Just under a quarter revealed they don’t inspect properties before granting them a HMO licence with 16 per cent unable to provide even a ballpark figure for how many PRS housing units there are in their area.

There is also a distinct lack of trained staff to enforce standards. The research found there are on average three per council area – the equivalent of one person to 5,122 PRS homes.

Source: NRLA

What happens next?

Following the inquest into Awaab’s death, senior coroner Joanne Kearsley asked the Government to address the fact its housing health and safety rating system (HSSRS) does not reflect the known risks of dampness and mould to health.

The Government had already announced plans to overhaul the system, introducing minimum standards in a bid to make them more transparent for landlords and tenants, with a review launched last year.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove and health secretary Steve Barclay also announced new guidance as regards damp and mould will be announced this summer.

Landlords who do the right thing and take their responsibilities seriously have nothing to fear. Keeping up with legislation, carrying out your minimum 2 yearly inspections and recording your findings and investigating, and addressing any issues reported or identified will go a long way to keep you ahead of the curve.

More information

Understanding Damp and Mould

Can't find what you are looking for?

Our helpful team are on hand to answer any queries and concerns you may have.

Get in Touch

This website uses cookies. We use cookies to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic.
You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website. Read our cookie policy. I understand