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Awaab’s Law Could Force Social Housing Providers to Address Damp and Mould Faster

Awaab’s Law Could Force Social Housing Providers to Address Damp and Mould Faster
09 January 2024 | Updated 10 January 2024

A consultation has been launched to explore introducing strict time limits for social housing providers to address dangerous hazards such as damp and mould.   

The law proposes new legal requirements for social landlords to investigate mould hazards within two weeks, start fixing within a further seven days, and make emergency repairs within 24 hours. Landlords will also have to keep a record of their compliance with the new timescales.


“We hope that Awaab’s Law will stop any other family going through the pain that we went through. Landlords need to listen to the concerns of tenants and we support these proposals.”

–Faisal Abdullah

Awaab’s father


Awaab Ishak


The Awaab’s Law consultation is named after two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who died from a respiratory condition in 2020 due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home in Rochdale. Significant mould was present in all rooms of the family’s flat. In 2017, before Awaab was born and three years before his death, housing provider Rochdale Boroughwide Housing was made aware of the issues, but no action to treat or prevent the mould was taken. 

In 2019, the family made an application to be re-housed. The family then instructed solicitors to make a disrepair claim due to the mould in June 2020. An inspection in July 2020 confirmed the presence of mould, but the policy at the time was not to act on any repairs until the agreement of the solicitors had been obtained.

The coroner concluded that the mould remained a recurring issue while the family lived in the property, despite a health visitor writing a letter to  Rochdale Boroughwide Housing in July 2020, raising their concerns about the potential impact of the mould on Awaab’s health.


Ineffective Ventilation in Social Housing


It was also ruled that there was “a lack of proactive treatment of the mould and a lack of consideration of the ineffective ventilation within this ageing property.” The bathroom of the flat had a broken fan and there was no mechanical ventilation in the kitchen at all.

After the inquest concluded, a statement from the family was read by their solicitor. It said: “All the time we felt troubled, we were anxious and fearful of what the mould was doing to Awaab. Whenever friends would come to visit, they would tell us that the conditions that Rochdale Boroughwide Housing were keeping us in were not right. 

“We have no doubt at all that we’re treated this way because we are not from this country and less aware of how the systems in the UK work.

“Rochdale Boroughwide Housing we have a message for you. Stop discriminating, stop being racist, stop providing unfair treatment to people coming from abroad who are refugees or asylum seekers, stop housing people in homes you know are unfit for human habitation.”

Awaab’s family campaigned for Awaab’s Law to force social landlords to investigate complaints of damp and mould faster and to begin works to repair a property within one week if a medical professional believes there is a risk to health. Awaab’s Law was introduced as part of The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, and the government will now consult on these time limits.

Around 164,000 (4 per cent) of England’s social rented homes are estimated to have a category 1 hazard, meaning the problem is deemed a serious and immediate risk to a person's health and safety. A report from the Building Research Establishment shows that damp is a common and costly issue for the NHS, with 75,000 homes in England suffering from the most serious dampness in 2018, leading to a £38 million annual bill for the NHS. 

Faisal Abdullah, Awaab’s father said: “We hope that Awaab’s Law will stop any other family going through the pain that we went through. Landlords need to listen to the concerns of tenants and we support these proposals.”

Social Housing campaigner, Kwajo Tweneboa added: “As we know many families across the country are still living in homes with damp and mould, creating misery but more worryingly risks their health and safety.  

“I’m pleased to see Awaab’s Law reach the consultation phase and hope that it goes far enough to prevent other families going through the tragedy Awaab’s family have had to. It’s crucial the government are able to make sure this law has teeth and is enforced for it to work as intended.” 

The consultation closes on 11:59pm on 5 March 2024 and information on how to respond can be found here  

Picture: a photograph of the bottom corner of a room's walls, showing black mould above a wooden skirting board. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 09 January 2024


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