Understanding and addressing the health risks of damp and mould in the home.
The UK Government has published guidance, as a direct response to the coroner’s report on the death of Awaab Ishak in 2020, due to mould in his family home. Published 7th September 2023.
The coroner’s report into Awaab’s death describes a catalogue of failures, and a housing provider that abdicated its responsibilities to his family and hid behind legal processes.
This guidance is a direct response to the coroner’s report and has been developed with a multidisciplinary group of experts in housing and health.
For a full copy of the guidance, please see : - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/damp-and-mould-understanding-and-addressing-the-health-risks-for-rented-housing-providers/understanding-and-addressing-the-health-risks-of-damp-and-mould-in-the-home--2#reducing-the-risk-of-damp-and-mould-developing
Living in a home with damp & mould can significantly affect the physical and mental health of tenants. It can cause disease and ill health in anyone, but older people, children and people with respiratory conditions and weakened immune systems, amongst other groups are at greater risk of severe health impacts from exposure to damp and mould.
In addition, damp & mould if left unchecked can destroy the fabric of the building, leading to expensive repair bills, making the argument for prevention a worthwhile option to consider.
The ministerial forward set the tone for the guidance: -
Landlords must ensure that the accommodation they provide is free from serious hazards, including damp and mould, and that homes are fit for habitation. They must treat cases of damp and mould with the utmost seriousness and act promptly to protect their tenants’ health.
Amongst several other related issues, the guidance highlighted the paramount need for adequate ventilation within homes: -
If a dwelling is inadequately ventilated, moisture in the air cannot escape the building and is therefore more likely to cause condensation. It is particularly important that rooms that inevitably involve a lot of moisture production, such as kitchens and bathrooms, have adequate ventilation.
Ventilation systems, such as extractor fans and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) systems should be regularly inspected and maintained by qualified professionals, who will be able to advise on a suitable schedule of maintenance.
Adopting a strategic approach to energy efficiency improvements
When modifying dwellings to improve energy efficiency, it is essential to understand how the new measures may affect the performance of the dwelling as a whole. For example, improving the airtightness of a property may make it warmer, but may also necessitate improvements to ventilation systems to avoid any unintended consequences such as poor indoor air quality, overheating or increasing humidity leading to condensation. With this in mind, it is important to build in checks to ensure that the work has been implemented successfully, without any unintended consequences, and is fully compliant with building regulations. Some issues, such as overheating in warmer weather, should be assessed at the appropriate time of year. Overheating homes can cause heat-related illness and even death.
Following a consultation, the government aims to introduce ‘Awaab’s Law’ to set out new requirements for landlords to address hazards such as damp and mould in social homes.
As well as several equally important issues to be addressed within the upcoming legislation, a large amount of attention will be focused on the provision of adequate ventilation, using various ventilation strategies including MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) In addition it was noted within the guidance, that appropriately qualified ventilation contractors and installers be used, when installing ventilation systems. Qualifications would include those registered with NICEIC, BPEC & City & Guilds as ventilation installers for example.
We at BPC Ventilation Ltd, as the UK`s leading independent domestic ventilation company, we are only too willing to play our part by offering free, impartial advice to landlords, housing associations and tenants.
To find out more about more about the benefits of a good ventilation strategy to mitigate against mould & damp and what may be best for your property, or any other ventilation requirement that we can help you with, please contact us via: -
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