England: Awaab’s Law to enforce strict damp and mould time restrictions
Social housing landlords in England will have to investigate and fix damp and mould in their properties within strict new time limits under new measures introduced in the wake of the tragic death of Awaab Ishak.
The UK Government has tabled amendments to the Social Housing Regulation Bill to introduce ‘Awaab’s Law’, which will require landlords to fix reported health hazards within specified timeframes.
The move comes in the wake of the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, caused by the damp and mould in his home, which was managed by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. Funding to Rochdale Boroughwide Housing to build new homes is still being blocked by the government until it can “prove it is a responsible landlord”.
Housing secretary Michael Gove made the announcement on a visit to Rochdale where he met with Awaab’s family and the interim chief executive at Rochdale Boroughwide Housing.
A consultation will be launched later this year to set the timeframes within which landlords will have to act to investigate hazards and make repairs.
The new rules will form part of the tenancy agreement, so tenants can hold landlords to account by law if they fail to provide a decent home.
The changes come as the government makes amendments to the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill that it said will drive up standards in the sector and hold landlords to account over the service they provide to their tenants.
Secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities Michael Gove said: “The tragic death of Awaab Ishak should never have happened. 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 has already committed to a rapid review of existing guidance on the health impacts of damp and mould, followed by new guidance tailored to the housing sector, to be published by Summer 2023.
Further powers will continue to bolster the Housing Ombudsman in ensuring landlords learn from past mistakes. The Ombudsman will be able to instruct landlords to measure their service against guidance on issues such as damp and mould, to help drive improvements following complaints from tenants.
Other amendments tabled will continue to strengthen the Bill, including improvements to insolvency arrangements, data protection and the requirement for written reports after inspections.