Michael Gove has written to council bosses asking for information on how they are dealing with damp and mould issues in the private rented sector. And he has also announced £14 million of funding for councils to target rogue landlords and improve standards with Leeds receiving £678,000.

Following the death of toddler Awaab Ishak, caused by untreated mould in his family’s housing association home, Housing Secretary Michael Gove has ordered council bosses to prove they are addressing damp and mould problems in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). The social sector is also being scrutinised for problems of damp and mould.

Gove has also announced £14 million of funding to help councils crackdown on rogue landlords and drive up standards. Leeds has received £678,000 for to use ‘behavioural science’ to change culture among landlords, improving knowledge and skills.

In the letter sent to councils, they are asked to provide an assessment of damp and mould issues affecting privately rented properties in their area. Within their assessment they must declare the prevalence of category 1 and 2 damp and mould hazards and provide details of action that might need to be taken.

Authorities must provide data for the last three years, including the following:

  • How many assessments of damp and mould were completed
  • The number of damp and mould hazards they have sorted out
  • How many times enforcement action was taken
  • How many civil penalty notices were issued
  • The number of prosecutions successfully pursued.

The Minister states in the letter “I would also like you to set out how you are prioritising enforcement of housing standards more generally in your authority, across all tenures, including what plans you have to ensure adequate enforcement capacity to drive up standards in the private rented sector.”

“It is vital that we all learn from the events that led to the tragic death of Awaab, and my officials and I look forward to working collaboratively with you to improve standards for renters across the country and across all tenures.”

The data from the councils must be provided in full by 27 January 2023.

The government is currently reviewing the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). And it is thought to be considering if councils should be formally instructed to examine residents’ behaviour when deciding whether to take action against landlords over dangerous conditions including mould and damp.