LB Hounslow to spend an extra £1m on tackling damp and mould in council homes

Cllr Sue Sampson

Nearly 300 ‘damp and mould hazards’ in properties discovered in survey

Cllr Sue Sampson, Cabinet Member for Housing at LB Hounslow, has told The Chiswick Calendar the Council plans to spend an extra £1 million on tackling damp and mould in Council homes since a review of housing stock in January found 287 ‘damp and mould hazards’ in Hounslow housing stock.

The Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove wrote to housing providers at the end of January requiring them to provide an urgent review into the housing conditions for private and social tenants.

His letter was prompted by the death of Awaab Ishak, the two year old who died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by “extensive” mould in a one-bedroom flat where he lived with his parents, Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Amin, in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Gove, who is also Secretary of State for Housing and Communities, warned housing providers they must raise the bar dramatically on standards and take urgent action when people complain about damp and mould.

LB Hounslow’s current housing stock is 13,046. The review found 287 damp and mould hazards.

Image above: Mould in a property owned by a private landlord

Cllr Sampson told us:

“Every resident in Hounslow has the fundamental right to live in a home that is in good condition, safe and secure, which is why we supported the government’s urgent review into housing conditions in December 2022.

“We already have robust processes and actions in place to carry out a wide range of repairs and the tragic case of Awaab Ishak has prompted us to review, refresh and refocus our approach to dealing with reports of damp and mould.

“In response to this review, we will boost our £7 million repairs budget with an additional £1 million to continue tackling damp and mould in our housing stock and a dedicated taskforce has been established to coordinate strategic and operational responses to the issue.”

The Council is now reviewing and updating damp and mould policies, processes and procedures, establishing case review panels for high risk cases of damp and mould and setting up six-month meetings with registered ‘social landlords’ within the borough to establish the situation outside the Council’s housing stock.

‘Social landlords’ here refers to housing associations.

Residents of Council owned properties are encouraged to visit the Estate Management Offices on key estates, or contact their housing officer. The Repair Line number to ring for residents who are Council tenants and need repairs (including potential issues with damp and mould) is 0208 583 4000 / report online at: hounslow.gov.uk

Residents who are not Council tenants and need help dealing with their landlords, can share their concerns with the Council by emailing: housing.enforcement@hounslow.gov.uk.

Image above: Examples of damp and mould in council homes reported to Chiswick councillors

Damp and mould a regular feature of complaints about housing problems to councillors in Chiswick

Chiswick councillors find reports about problems with damp and mould feature regularly in their case work, from residents living in Council housing around Devonshire Rd and Edensor Rd and from residents renting from private landlords.

Cllr Joanna Biddolph

Cllr Joanna Biddolph, who represents Chiswick Gunnersbury Ward and speaks for the Conservative opposition on housing, told us:

“In Chiswick, children and vulnerable people living in damp, mouldy homes are suffering from chest infections due to damp and mould – Councils, housing associations and private landlords must act faster and effectively.

“Washing a wall is not enough; the mould grows back in days. Telling residents to open windows is not enough; that doesn’t deal with the leaks that are causing the damp.

“Telling residents to keep reporting the damp and mould to the landlord and lettings agent is not enough – they aren’t responding with seriousness.

“All social housing providers need to fix the source – sometimes there is more than one – and fast and the council must be ready to provide housing within a short time if the landlord fails.”

Cllr Ron Mushiso added:

“They’re [LB Hounslow] focusing on vanity projects and not at all focusing on the living conditions of our most vulnerable and less well-off residents.

“I’ve got one Somali guy who’s living on Devonshire Road in Flaxman House, near Hogarth Roundabout and he’s got mould everywhere.

“It’s just not sexy enough [for the council]… I think they’re focusing too much on the big picture, the OneHounslow that will get them to notoriety, Council of the Year kind of stuff. But the day-to-day has not been focused on.”

Cllr Sue Sampson told us:

“We cannot tackle this issue alone. We urgently need the government to provide additional funding to upgrade our housing stock – along with investment in new affordable homes our residents so desperately need. A simplified regulatory system will also empower councils to enforce these new regulations within the private-rented sector.

“It is crucial that mistakes made in the tragic case in Rochdale are not repeated in Hounslow and we will do everything within our power to make sure residents live in high-quality and safe homes.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Michael Gove requires councils to review housing conditions for tenants

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