New taskforce to tackle borough’s mouldy homes

Complaints about mould in privately rented homes have tripled in recent months

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Mould in the temporary accommodation of a local family (credit: Tracy Olonade)

A new taskforce aims to tackle the borough’s mouldy homes, as the council reports complaints tripling in recent months.

Last November, a coroner ruled that Rochdale toddler Awaab Ishak developed a fatal respiratory condition because of a long-term mould problem in his home. His father had complained to their social housing provider three years earlier but was brushed off.

In response, the government announced plans last month to introduce “Awaab’s Law”, legislation that will force social housing providers, like councils or housing associations, to deal with reported mould problems within strict time limits.

The revelation about Awaab’s death has also seen both Waltham Forest Council and residents become far more concerned about dealing with mould in their homes.

Since the inquest last November, the council has seen the number of outstanding complaints about mould from tenants in privately rented flats triple to about 100.

For those living in council homes, the council created a specialist “taskforce” in November to deal with mould and damp complaints “swiftly and effectively”. Nine cases of mould or damp reported to the team in January this year were treated “as a priority”.

At a meeting of the council’s housing scrutiny committee last night, a report noted there is a backlog of almost 150 mould and damp issues in the borough’s council homes, adding that repairs contractor Morgan Sindall should be kept under “close scrutiny” until this is resolved.

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

Divisional director of housing operations Jane Martin also said the council’s temporary accommodation team, which houses around 900 households, is “reviewing its processes” to ensure they meet the “highest standards”.

This includes stricter procedures for inspecting properties before they are used to house people, as well as follow-up inspections if improvement work is needed.

Mother-of-six Tracy Olonade, who has been in temporary housing provided by the Waltham Forest Council for four years, welcomed the change but said her experience has been “totally different” in recent years.

Last May, she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the increasingly severe mould in an Edmonton Green flat she was placed in was affecting her family’s health.

It was particularly bad for her five-year-old son, who was left “constant[ly] coughing” and “sneezing repeatedly” as soon as he woke up in the morning.

She said: “I just ended up getting moved after… I think it was at least seven months – the landlord didn’t want to do anything and the council just moved us.”

Since being rehoused in Ilford, Tracy said her son is now fine and has “no issues whatsoever”.

The council’s task force has a budget of more than £400,000 per year and will operate until at least March 2024.

Support with managing or reporting damp and mould can be found on Waltham Forest Council’s website.

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

In celebration of Indie News Week, Public Interest News Foundation's Indie News Fund will match fund all donations, including new annual supporter subscriptions for the month of June.

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month.  £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or annually 

More Information about donations