Nicki Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, described how dozens of local residents in her constituency are living in poor standards caused by dampness.
She said: “I have been appalled to see the unacceptable conditions too many of my constituents are living in which their housing providers are failing to rectify.
“Housing Associations can have as many strategies and plans in place to deal with damp and mould but actions speak louder than words. Without action, the health of the nation suffers.
“That’s why I’m calling for an increased duty of care from housing providers to ensure people can live safely in healthy properties they can be proud to call home.”
A study found more than a fifth of homes in Britain are suffering from damp, mould or condensation.
It can also have a significant impact on residents’ health.
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Two-year-old Awaab Ishak died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by “extensive” mould in a one-bedroom flat where he lived with his parents.
Ms Aiken said: “The Housing Secretary Michael Gove is leading from the front in holding housing associations and local authorities to account to ensure they improve the quality of social housing.
“His commitment to Awaab’s Law will force social landlords to fix damp and mould issues, whilst his flagship campaign will empower tenants to know their rights.”
Tom Darling, campaign manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, warned the private rented sector has become a “wild west” of poor quality housing.
Around 21 per cent of homes that are privately rented do not meet the Government’s ‘Decent Homes Standard’, much higher than the figures for owner occupied homes and social housing.
Mr Darling said: “One of the reasons for this is that tenants lack power to stand up to their landlords and demand that they meet their obligations to provide a decent standard of housing.
“We are campaigning to ensure that this changes through the Renters (Reform) Bill.
“But it’s very disappointing that the Government haven’t yet included their plans to make the Decent Home Standard binding in privately rented homes – they must introduce this proposal immediately to tackle widespread mould and damp issues.”
‘Four out of the six of us suffer with respiratory problems’
A mother of five has fears for her children’s health because of damp and mould in their two-bedroom home.
Harri Dixon’s daughter Ruby, two, has been hospitalised several times with lower respiratory issues which doctors have said could be partly caused by the living conditions.
Ruby, her former supermarket worker mother Harri, 35, and siblings Tommy, five, and Henry, nine, suffer from asthma which sometimes flares up in winter when conditions worsen.
Harri, who lives in a two-bedroom basement flat in Pimlico, said: “Four out of the six of us suffer with respiratory problems.
“I’ve always had asthma but it’s been well controlled but there’s certain periods of time living here where it does get worse which is inevitable.”
Harri moved into the flat managed by the L&Q housing association in November 2013 when mould was reportedly already impacting the home.
The family told how one bedroom “couldn’t have been lived in” for the first year because it had to be aired out and dried.
Harri said: “It got really bad in 2017. Tommy spent two weeks in hospital as a newborn with a lower respiratory problem. He was in the high dependency unit for that time. That was obviously quite hard to see and go through.”
Ruby had significant breathing difficulties by the time she was nine months old and would become “floppy and blue” within seconds.
Doctors carried out several tests and procedures and came to the conclusion that dampness could be contributing to the issue.
Ms Dixon is eligible for a “direct offer” of housing but would have to move away from the area where her support network currently lives.
She said: “I’ve been told categorically it won’t be this area or the surrounding boroughs. I did state that I wanted to be somewhere near a hospital which is a hard thing to request but I have to put Ruby’s health at the forefront of any move.”
Ms Dixon’s MP Nicki Aiken has written to L&Q’s chief executive Fiona Fletcher-Smith dozens of times but has not heard back recently.
Ms Aiken said: “I’ve invited Fiona Fletcher-Smith to do a walkabout with me because it’s important people at the top of an organisation actually get out and see what their tenants are living with.
“Would they accept those living conditions? And if not, then why would they expect anyone else to.
“Run your organisation properly and ensure your tenants are living in the conditions you would or family.”
“Mould a visible death risk and we’ve seen that it can kill with the dreadful case of Awaab Ishak. Ruby is living with the same problems.”
David Lewis, executive group director of property services at L&Q said they “completely understand” Ms Dixon’s concerns for her children.
He added that a number of repairs have been carried out in the home during several visits, including using an anti-mould agent in the kitchen in April this year.
A surveyor visited again last month and reported that there were no major issues but made some recommendations to prevent damp reoccurring, Mr Lewis said.
Air vents in two bedrooms are also set to be replaced later this month.
Mr Lewis said: “Ms Dixon and her children clearly need to move to a larger, more suitable home, and we are doing everything we can to help.
“The family are on a waiting list, but unfortunately demand for family sized homes always outstrips supply, and there is a particular shortage in Westminster and its surrounding boroughs.”