Private landlords are to be held accountable for damp and mould in their homes including unlimited fines for those who flout the rules, new guidance from the Government has made clear.
Three Government bodies have jointly issued the lengthy advice document (see links at bottom), which makes it clear that private landlords as well as housing associations and councils are to be policed more heavily over the quality of their homes. This includes facing unlimited fines for those who ignore the various laws governing damp and mould.
This follows the case last year of toddler Awaab Ishak whose death from complications prompted by damp and mould in his council home brought the issue into the political limelight.
Housing minister Michael Gove (pictured) says in the guidance that landlords must not blame tenants for damp and mould – a hotly debated area within the LandlordZONE Forums – saying: “Damp and mould in the home are not the result of ‘lifestyle choices’, and it is the responsibility of landlords to identify and address the underlying causes of the problem, such as structural issues or inadequate ventilation”.
Gove’s guidance, which has been issued jointly with his department but also the Department of Health and Social Care and the UK Health Security Agency, stresses how the presence of damp and mould can affect tenants’ mental and physical health, and urges them to swot up on this six pieces of legislation they and their properties must conform to, and how and when to respond to tenants’ complaints.
The guidance also heralds two of the Renters (Reform) Bill’s key components which will be used soon to police private landlords including their management of mould and damp in properties.
These are the Housing Ombudsman which will deal with tenant complaints where the landlord hasn’t taken action, and the Property Portal, where a landlord’s compliance with the Decent Homes Standards, along with other regulations, will be recorded.
"The onus is now firmly on the landlord to identify and deal with any problem," says Sean Hooker (pictured), Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme.
“It is no longer acceptable to blame issues on the way tenants live and normal life such as cooking, washing and drying of laundry have to continue.
“Instead, landlords and their agents must be sensitive to the needs of tenants and work with them to understand and change behaviour where appropriate.
“They should also thoroughly investigate the underlying causes behind the problems and follow up to ensure things have improved.
“We at the PRS will be using this guide to hold agents to account and urge the Government to introduce redress for landlord managed properties as soon as possible to proceed a holistic approach across every rented home.”