Housing Secretary Michael Gove has ordered council bosses to prove they are assessing and improving damp and mould problems in the PRS.
Following the death of toddler Awaab Ishak as a direct result of mould in his family home, Gove says there's an urgent need to ensure a decent standard of properties in all sectors.
He has now written to chief executives and council leaders asking them to provide an assessment of damp and mould issues affecting privately rented properties in their area, including the prevalence of category 1 and 2 damp and mould hazards, as well as an assessment of action that might need to be taken.
Authorities must provide their last three 12 monthly reporting periods, detailing how many damp and mould hazards they have sorted out compared to assessments made, how many times enforcement action was taken, how many civil penalty notices were issued, and the number of prosecutions successfully pursued.
'I would also like you to set out how you are prioritising enforcement of housing standards more generally in your authority, across all tenures, including what plans you have to ensure adequate enforcement capacity to drive up standards in the private rented sector,'� writes Gove.
'It is vital that we all learn from the events that led to the tragic death of Awaab, and my officials and I look forward to working collaboratively with you to improve standards for renters across the country and across all tenures,'� he tells them.
The government is currently reviewing the updated housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) '� part of the Decent Homes Standard '� and is reported to be considering whether councils should be formally instructed to examine residents' behaviour when deciding whether to take action against landlords over dangerous conditions including mould and damp.