I am writing to you following the devastating death of Awaab Ishak and the spotlight it has shone on the issue of damp and mould in Britain’s social housing stock. The avoidable death of a small child was a shocking incident and showed the worst implications of poor-quality social housing. It is unacceptable that a tragedy like this took place in the UK in 2022.
I frequently receive casework enquires from constituents in social housing alerting my office to damp and mould in their homes, so it is clear that this issue concerns us here in the constituency. As such, I am writing to remind you of your responsibilities as a housing provider to tenants in Battersea.
Awaab’s death demonstrates how serious the responsibility of managing social homes really is. Mistakes made in his case must be learnt from. It is only by doing so that we can ensure that no family endures such a tragedy again.
The coroner’s report into Awaab’s death is a sobering account of serial failings committed by a callous housing association. I would expect you to have already read it in full and to have acted on similar issues in your housing stock.
I expect all social homes in Battersea to meet the Decent Homes Standard and it is essential that any which fall short are identified and remediated with immediate effect. The Standard provides clear guidance on standards on housing quality and handling complaints.
More concretely, I expect you to be undertaking assessments of:
- Damp and mould issues affecting your properties, including the prevalence of category 1 and 2 damp and mould hazards.
- The action you have identified that may need to be taken in relation to damp and mould issues affecting your properties.
This is all the more imperative given the challenging conditions households face this winter. The pressure to cut back on heating costs has the potential to exacerbate the conditions which lead to damp and mould.
Finally, I am keen to work collaboratively with you. I would appreciate it if we can meet in the new year so we can ensure that Battersea’s social homes meet the highest possible standard and that tenants in my constituency can live in security and comfort.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Marsha de Cordova
Member of Parliament for Battersea