News

Council to use sensors to detect damp

The idea comes from Waltham Forest’s new damp and mould task force reports Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Waltham Forest's Council cabinet, meeting in the council chamber to discuss damp and mould
Waltham Forest Council\’s cabinet met today (8th June) to receive a report on its damp and mould response – (Credit – LDRS)

Waltham Forest Council is planning to use “smart sensors” to automatically detect damp issues in its tenants’ homes.

The sensors – which can detect temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide – will be installed in up to 100 council homes from this summer.

Sensors are one of the initiatives linked to the council’s “specialist” damp and mould task force, launched in January 2023 following an inquest into the death of Rochdale toddler Awaab Ishak.

The task force’s job is to respond “swiftly and effectively” to reports of damp and mould in its 10,000 council-owned or managed properties.

According to a report this week, the sensors will detect breaches in humidity or temperature levels and automatically alert the task force and the council’s property services contractor Morgan Sindall.

The report adds: “Detection will trigger a call to the tenant to discuss how to resolve the problem, a potential surveyor’s visit and, if needed, a repair or advice and guidance.”

Speaking at a cabinet meeting today, cabinet member for housing and regeneration Ahsan Khan said the council is also reviewing historic cases to check for any “outstanding issues”.

Cllr Khan also acknowledged the recent case of Farzana Begum, whose Montague Road Estate council flat in Leytonstone has suffered from damp from a suspected leak in a neighbouring flat for the past seven years.


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Farzana told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that she repeatedly reported the problem to the council and its contractor Morgan Sindall, but staff only “took pictures and went away”.

Cllr Khan said: “The case we saw in Montague Road this week is a reminder of the importance of going back on some of these cases to ensure we’ve done all that we could – [including] cases that were many years ago.”

Since a coroner ruled Awaab Ishak died from a mould-related respiratory condition in November last year the council’s private-sector property licensing team has inspected 93 properties.

It says 55 properties suffering from damp and mould have been improved as a “direct result” of intervention by council staff.

It has also set up a “task and finish” group of councillors, chaired by Cllr Khan, which meets in private to scrutinise its efforts to deal with damp and mould in the borough.

According to a survey in 2021, England had around 900,000 homes with damp problems.

One in ten of those were in the private sector, four percent in the social-rented sector and two percent in owner-occupied homes.

The council estimates that about 4,400 homes in the borough suffer from some level of damp and mould.

Waltham Forest residents can report issues with damp and mould in their rented home via the council’s website at: https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/guidance-landlords-and-tenants/damp-and-mould-landlords-and-tenants

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