02 Feb 2023
Today (2 February 2023), both the Housing Ombudsman and the Regulator of Social Housing shared reports about damp and mould in social housing.
The Housing Ombudsman shared a one year follow up to its initial 2021 spotlight report on damp and mould. Damp and mould have been an increasing area of focus for the Ombudsman; in 2021-22 they made 456 findings related to damp and mould, more than double in the previous year, along with 13 of their 31 severe maladministration decisions.
Although the Ombudsman highlights several areas of good practice, it is clear further progress needs to be made. Most landlords the Ombudsman contacted still do not have a specific damp and mould policy, cultural issues of blaming residents and their lifestyle remain, and some landlords are still “hiding behind” legal proceedings. The follow up report identifies ten key factors which will determine whether action plans to improve responses to damp and mould are sufficient.
One clear area that landlords need to improve is the knowledge of their stock. This is highlighted in the Regulator’s update, which summarises its findings after analysing evidence provided by social landlords. The Regulator found that most social landlords understand the extent of damp and mould issues in their tenants’ homes and take action to tackle them, but could strengthen their approach, especially in their knowledge of homes, frequency of surveying and understanding of individual tenant needs. (This was also picked up in the recommendations of the Better Social Housing Review.)
However, some landlords could not provide enough information for the Regulator to have confidence that they were aware of damp and mould issues across their stock and responding adequately. The Regulator will be engaging directly with these landlords and those reporting a high prevalence of homes with damp and mould issues.
The Regulator estimates that 3 to 4 per cent of social homes, up to 160,000, have “notable” amounts of damp and mould, with 0.2 per cent or 8,000 posing a serious and immediate threat to health due to damp and mould. This means most social homes are free from damp and mould issues, but there are still far too many residents living in poor quality social homes.
Responding to the reports, James Prestwich, CIH director of policy and external affairs, said:
“These reports help us to understand the scale of the issue with damp and mould in social housing. While most social homes are of good quality, and most social landlords are aware of the homes with damp and mould issues and are taking steps to deal with them, clearly there is much more work to be done. We should not accept that any social housing resident is living in a poor quality home, putting their health and wellbeing at risk.
“Both reports highlight good practice across the sector, many of which are also exemplified in our member guide to dealing with damp and mould. We will continue to share good practice with our members and more widely to help the sector learn and improve.
“The Chartered Institute of Housing, in collaboration with the National Housing Federation and in consultation with our members, is preparing our action plan in response to the Better Social Housing Review. This will provide advice and support to landlords working on improving their understanding of their stock and developing excellent repairs and maintenance services. More information on this will follow in due course.”