“Tackle damp and mould or pay the penalty”, Hackney landlords told after record Council investment agreed
Landlords who put lives at risk by ignoring serious damp and mould issues will face fines and legal action after the Council agreed record new investment to improve living conditions and step up enforcement against rogue landlords.
The additional 25% increase in funding (£400,000) a year for the Council’s private sector enforcement team, is a vital part of the Council’s new budget this week, and will be focused on expanding our capacity and ensuring private landlords meet their duty to tackle damp and mould and provide a good, safe home to their tenants.
The announcement is the latest step in the Council’s pledge to address damp and mould issues across all housing types in Hackney in response to the tragic case of Awaab Ishak, a two year old who died following prolonged exposure to mould in his family home in Rochdale.
It adds to new Council plans to tackle damp and mould in its own housing stock, including a five day turnaround to address all reported damp and mould issues and a new next working day repair service to respond to reports of leaks.
Since 1 December, the Council has responded to more than 70 reports of damp and mould in privately rented homes, which each report acted on within five days and enforcement notices served where the landlords fails to take steps to resolve the issue.
The investment is also the latest boost for the Council’s #BetterRenting campaign, which strives for a better system for the more than 30,000 private renters in Hackney by supporting tenants, challenging government and tackling rogue landlords.
Case study: a private renter in Clapton
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney and Cllr Sem Moema, Mayoral Adviser for Private Renting and Housing Affordability, joined the enforcement team on a visit to a resident in Clapton who is experiencing extensive issues with damp and mould. The tenant has lived in the home for around five years with her five year old daughter. On inspecting the home, Council officers found mould in the bedroom and covering the wall and ceiling in the bathroom, as well as high humidity in the kitchen causing the appliances to rust.
Since moving in, the resident's five year old daughter has developed a chronic cough which is likely to have been caused by the mould and has forced the mother and daughter to sleep in the living room. Rather than dealing with the damp, the landlord has served the resident with two S21 evictions – a no fault eviction which the Council is lobbying the government to ban. Since being made aware of the condition of the home, the Council are working to take enforcement action to force the landlord to undertake the required repairs.
I moved here around five years ago. At first I was so happy but after three months of living here everything started coming down and damp and mould took over. To be honest, we’re struggling a lot, but what can we do? It’s affecting my daughter's sleep and she has developed a chronic cough – we’ve had to sleep and live in the front room. I can’t sleep and I’m scared.
I’ve contacted the landlord several times and they refuse to carry out the necessary work to make this house safe. If it wasn’t for the support around me I don’t know what I would do.
We’ve already announced clear plans to tackle damp and mould in Council properties – this additional investment we are making available in this year’s budget will mean we can provide the same support for private renters.
What we saw in this one home was heartbreaking and illustrated the importance of investing in our services to equip them with the resources they need to challenge cases like these and ensure every resident has a safe and secure home.
While this is only one case, it illustrates the unsafe and unacceptable conditions a lot of our residents in the private rental sector are being forced to live in to prevent unfair evictions.
This funding boost will allow us to use every power to raise standards of accommodation and challenge rogue landlords in the borough, while we continue to lobby the national government for the protections that our private renters deserve.
Tackling damp and mould across home in Hackney
There are also some simple tips people can follow to help prevent the build up of condensation – which can lead to damp and mould – in their home. These can be found at hackney.gov.uk/damp-and-mould