Letter to Editor: Mould in houses in Harlow

General / Tue 13th Dec 2022 at 11:04am

LETTER to the Editor: The recent case of Awaab Ishak, the toddler who lived with his parents in a one bedroomed flat managed by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing – who died because of a respiratory condition caused by exposure to mould in his home – may seem miles away.

But the Housing Ombudsman has recently written to all local authorities about mould in social housing, and produced a press release about five other cases involving mould referred to in his recent ”Spotlight” report – one of which involves Harlow District Council, which the Ombudsman reported on last December. In his Spotlight Report, the Ombudsman has expressed concerns about how these five cases had been dealt with. 

Although the Housing Ombudsman concluded that Harlow Council responded to the request for help from the tenant – living with his wife and two children in a one bedroomed flat – in accordance with its policies, he noted that the flat suffered from damp and mould which affected the health of family members. Although the Ombudsman found no maladministration in the Council’s actions, he criticised the Council for advising the tenant that the problem was due to the family’s “lifestyle”.  

This case raises a couple of issues for Council tenants and those on the Council’s Housing Register:

  • Based on the Housing Ombudsman’s findings, Council officers should not “automatically” be telling people that the cause of damp and mould in a Council property is always down to “lifestyle”.  Yes, in quite a few cases this is the cause – which is when advice on lifestyle should be given – but officers should also ensure, as a matter of course, that there are no structural / technical / environmental issues involved, in which case the Council should take appropriate action.  
  • Harlow Council did not give the family any priority in respect of the health issues being experienced by the tenants, or the fact that four people were living in a one bedroomed flat. If ever there was a case needed to highlight the desperate shortage of real affordable housing in Harlow, this one demonstrates such need.

The council has indicated that it will improve its response to such cases but in view of huge number of outstanding roof and ceiling repairs recently reported, the problem of damp and mould in its homes may not be an easy one to remedy.

Nicholas Taylor

Chair of Harlow Alliance Party

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6 Comments for Letter to Editor: Mould in houses in Harlow:

2022-12-13 19:40:36

Well said, Nicholas Taylor. Harlow conservatives take note.

David Forman
2022-12-13 20:43:46

Well argued letter by Nicholas Taylor.

Kim Oconnor
2022-12-15 09:22:50

Well said Nicholas as usual. I have a big flat roof bay window that has been leaking for years now, rain just settles on roof, causing damp. Window frames go mouldy. Of course I clean of, but it's relentless. Had council down to look few times, no roof ok, then a few letters telling me how to clean mould of, hahaha, I told them I'm 64 years old, I know how to clean,, but thus is relentless.

2022-12-19 09:53:50

Well said Nich. My family have personal experience of this and have been waiting many, many months to hear from the Ombudsman following Harlow Council's decision that it was due to their lifestyle. Needless to say the property they have lived in since for almost 2 years is damp and mould-free...!!!

Danny Long
2022-12-26 18:40:25

In my opinion, Harliw council pay to mould sorted out in any property in Harlow that has this problem, including properties that are formerly council owned but are now privately owned because it is due to the cheap and dodgy materials that there is still a mould issue in this houses.

Danny Long
2022-12-26 19:25:56

In my opinion, Harlow council should pay to have mould removed from ever property in Harlow which are still effected by this issue. It don't matter if they are still council owned or formerly council owned and now privately owned. It is due to the dodgy materials and lack of installation that this current and former council homes have mould problems even in the 21st century.

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