Landlords will have to investigate and fix damp and mould in social housing within strict time limits under a proposed new law named after a toddler who died having been exposed to such conditions at home.
Two-year-old Awaab Ishak died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould at his home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
His parents, Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Amin, had repeatedly complained about the mould but were “repeatedly ignored”, Housing Secretary Michael Gove said.
The Government has tabled amendments to the Social Housing Regulation Bill to introduce what it called “Awaab’s Law”, which it said aims to see landlords obligated to fix reported health hazards within specified timeframes.
The department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said a consultation will be launched later this year to set the timeframes and that the new rules will form part of the tenancy agreement, meaning renters can hold landlords to account by law if they fail to provide a decent home.
“He was inexcusably let down and his family repeatedly ignored. I want to pay tribute to Awaab’s family for their tireless fight for justice over the last two years.
“Today we have announced tough new laws to force social landlords to fix their homes within strict new time limits.
“Those landlords who continue to drag their feet over dangerous damp and mould will face the full force of the law.
“Our Social Housing Bill will enshrine tenants’ rights in law and strengthen the Housing Ombudsman and Regulator’s powers so that poor social landlords have nowhere to hide.
“Awaab’s Law will help to ensure that homes across the country are safe, decent and warm.”
The Government aims to publish new guidance this summer tailored to the housing sector, following a rapid review of existing guidance on the health impacts of damp and mould.
Earlier this month the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) published initial findings in its investigation into conditions in the sector which suggested tens of thousands of properties in England have “notable” damp and mould.
The department said further powers, announced on Thursday will enable the Housing Ombudsman to instruct landlords to measure their service against guidance on issues such as damp and mould, as well as plans to improve insolvency arrangements, data protection and the requirement for written reports after inspections.
Last year, the RSH found “widespread failings” at the housing association that owned the flat Awaab had lived in.
RBH made “incorrect assumptions” about the cause of damp and mould in the toddler’s flat and did not treat his family with fairness and respect, the regulator said.