Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, outlines how the Council is redoubling its efforts to tackle damp and mould
I made a commitment in Full Council a couple of weeks ago to everyone living in a Hackney Council-managed home or that of any other social landlord and those renting privately that we would be redoubling our efforts to tackle damp and mould.
These were not hollow words - but a pledge that we have already started to deliver on with much more to come.
We have all been shocked and angered by the tragic case of Awaab Ishak, who died aged two years old, from prolonged exposure to mould in his family home in Rochdale. This is something that we cannot allow to be repeated.
I set out a clear and robust action plan for how we would raise our game here at the Council on this issue; work with the borough’s other social landlords to ensure we have a coordinated and joined up approach; and also tackle the private landlords not fulfilling their legal duty of maintaining their homes.
Since I set out our plans we are, or have already:
- Meeting our target of inspecting all reports of damp and mould within five working days
- Set up a dedicated hotline in our repairs contact centre to speed up getting issues of damp and mould reported,
- Directed more of our housing budgets into underpinning our work to combat damp and mould. For our Council homes we are already investing an extra £1m which includes expanding our repairs service to provide a swift, more focused response and in next year’s budget we will be sustaining this level of new investment to improve repairs and tackle damp and mould in our own homes
- We are investing a further £400,000 on additional environmental health officers to help those in the private rented sector secure the repairs needed to ensure their homes are safe and free from damp and mould.
- Ensured that all of our housing officers out and about across the borough are fully aware of the signs of damp and mould and how to ensure it is properly reported
- Started to reassess all the outstanding repairs we have involving damp and mould and ensuring they are prioritised taking account the severity of the case, and the age and health of the people living in the home
- Unveiled our latest upgrade to our temporary accommodation provision - turning a run down building in Seven Sisters has been transformed into safe, warm, modern temporary accommodation for homeless women, including pregnant women and women with babies.
- We have written to social landlords across Hackney to outline our approach and request information on how they are tackling the issue of damp and mould so we can form a coordinated response, and I have also followed this letter with them up today
- Outlined our approach and the actions we are taking in a letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove,
This is just the beginning. Next year we will be:
- Launching a 24-hour response to all reports of leaks from early next year
- Sharing with residents helpful tips and advice for how they can help prevent condensation - which can lead to damp and mould - building up in their home
- Undertaking a sample borough wide stock condition survey which will include specific assessments of damp and mould and prioritising blocks more likely to suffer from damp and mould
- Working with our tenant management organisations that manage many of our estates - a third of our blocks - to ensure we have a joined-up, clear and standard response for tackling damp and mould, and that no cases fall through the gaps of their responsibilities and ours
- Engaging with the tenants and resident associations and campaigners, and use the Resident Liaison Group (the highest level of resident involvement) and ward councillors to share knowledge of problem areas and blocks to prioritise action.
- Increasing our engagement with private landlords in the borough to tackle the issue of damp and mould We are already taking enforcement action against landlords with damp and mouldy properties and are committed to holding private landlords to account on the condition of their properties.
- Continuing to increase the number of resources in our repair service - with 14 new repairs officers having joined this year and another 15 on the way.
- Responding in full to the government’s request for information on our work on damp and mould - which we will also publish.
We know that historically at times our response to tackling damp and mould has not been what it should be - and for that I apologise.
Yes, we can point to the impact of budget cuts, the cost of living crisis, the criminal cyberattack we suffered, Covid-19 and the disruption caused by working with 14 different Government housing ministers in the last 12 years.
But this is no comfort to any resident living in a home blighted by damp and mould. There should not and cannot be any more excuses for not taking action.
We have already started to drive forward our push on tackling damp and mould but there is much more to do. My commitment to every Council tenant and anyone living in rented accommodation, social or private, is that we will not let the challenges we face stand in the way of our response or ensuring you have a safe, warm and decent place to call home.