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Landlords should not wait for ‘medical evidence’ before tackling damp and mould

Landlords should not wait for ‘medical evidence’ before tackling damp and mould

Tenants should not have to provide medical evidence before landlords address damp and mould that is impacting their health, the Government has said.

Guidance that has been published in response to the death of 2-year-old Awaab Ishak in 2020 after prolonged exposure to mould in his family home, says ‘every person across this country deserves to live in a home that is safe, warm and dry’.

Landlords should tackle the underlying problem causing damp and mould promptly and should not delay action ‘to await medical advice or opinion’.

Medical evidence is not a requirement for action and tenants should not be blamed for damp and mould, the guidance states.

Although anyone worried about the impact of damp and mould on their health should be advised to see a health professional, it adds.

‘Damp and mould in the home are not the result of ‘lifestyle choices’, and it is the responsibility of landlords to identify and address the underlying causes of the problem, such as structural issues or inadequate ventilation,’ it notes.

In 2019, the presence of damp and or mould in English houses was estimated to be associated with around 5,000 cases of asthma and 8,500 lower respiratory infections among children and adults.

The guidance urges those renting out houses, whether they own one or multiple houses, to take a proactive approach rather than waiting for the problem to occur.

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And they should build relationships with health and social care and other frontline professionals supporting tenants to ensure that ‘every opportunity to identify tenants living in homes with damp and mould is utilised’.

It is estimated that between 4% and 27% of homes in England have damp and mould, depending on how its measured, which could impact up to 6.5 million households.

Those living in private or social rented housing are more likely to suffer from the problem which can cause serious physical and mental health issues.

The guidance was produced in response to concerns raised by the Coroner looking into the death of Awaab Ishak that there was ‘no evidence that up-to-date relevant health information pertaining to the risks of damp and mould was easily accessible to the housing sector’.

It sets out the severe health effects of living with mould, particularly for a long time, and that those with underlying health conditions, such as respiratory or cardiovascular disease or weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Children and young people and pregnant women may also be more vulnerable it stresses.

In addition, some people exposed to damp and mould might experience poor mental health as a result because of the anxiety about how it was impacting their health or that of their families as well as social isolation and unpleasant living conditions, the guidance adds.

In a ministerial forward, health secretary Steve Barclay and housing minister Michael Gove said: ‘The tragic death of Awaab Ishak should never have happened. His family’s complaints about their living conditions were repeatedly ignored – an experience that is familiar to many tenants.

‘We urge landlords to read this guidance and adopt the best practices it sets out. This will protect tenants’ health and prevent avoidable tragedies like the death of Awaab Ishak happening to another family.’


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Church 8 September, 2023 12:02 pm

I might agree that the landlord is responsible for ‘very wet’ in a property, bu tthey are definitely NOT responsible for ‘damp and mould’, from a causal, scientific, viewpoint.
Tenants’ lifestyle choices and actions or inactions ARE to blame for the problem.
If for no other reason, than the tenant is there all the time, and should report promptly to the landlord for action any excess dampness or problems with the ventilation, and must accept responsiblity for failing to do so – and if the landlord does not deal promptly with a significant problem over which the landlord has control, the tenants should promptly move out, assisted by social services, ensuring the landlord is held accountable for costs incurred and blacklisted.
Normally, ie in the absence of severe excess ‘wetness’, damp and mould is related to balance between ventilation and heating, and condensation from air of high humidity onto cold surfaces. Tenants need to use heating appropriately, and adjust ventilation appropriately, to avoid condensation; and remove condensation that is unavoidable, such as in steamy kitchens/bathrooms.
Neither is this at all a medical problem – it is a basic domestic knowledge problem, that shoud be tackled through school domestic science and physics lessons. And perhaps people should not be allowed to graduate from school until they have attended such courses, leave alone the higher mathermatics the PM believes so essential. It is far more important to people than adding and string theory.

Simon Gilbert 8 September, 2023 1:53 pm

What would the medical evidence be to show this is a problem for an individual? We get a lot of these requests, often with clearly stated secondary gain i.e. the property isn’t the desired size.

Not on your Nelly 8 September, 2023 2:47 pm

Living conditions are between the landlord and tenant. Unless they have medical problems which they need to see us about, this is nothing to do with GPs. not my circus, not my monkey.

Truth Finder 8 September, 2023 4:30 pm

When GPs start getting involved in too many things except doctoring, we are lost.
Counter terrorism, social services, loneliness, family problems etc. all which we have very little impact and can do very little as a doctor except sharing the risk and making others unhappy as we cannot do anything.

Philip Brown 10 September, 2023 1:17 pm

This is not, and has never been the job of a GP.
I say this as a dual qualified GP who was in a previous life before Medicine an Environmental Health Officer enforcing housing legislation. Any tenant in the private rented sector who feels that there housing conditions are affecting there health can complain to the local Environmental Health department, which can be found in the local borough or district council. They have legal powers to compel landlords to repair defective properties. I have prosecuted several in my time.
As usual the government seems to have completely forgotten EHOs and the job they do. Just easier to ask us GPs to do something else that’s not our job!