The tragic death of Awaab Ishak at his family’s housing association property in Rochdale in December 2020 has been labelled a ‘defining moment’ for the housing sector at the child’s inquest, with the government further stating that providers are being put ‘on notice’. This includes Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), the housing association responsible for the home where Awaab died from ‘chronic exposure to mould’.
The inquest concluded that the two-year-old’s death was the result of a severe respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to damp and mould at his home on the Freehold estate in Rochdale, ultimately leading to respiratory failure. The property was judged to be inadequately ventilated, which was a prime reason for excess damp, condensation and mould spreading, and was also described as ‘unfit for human habitation’ by experts.
The inquest heard that no action had been taken by RBH to treat and remove the mould, despite the child’s parents having reported the disrepair issue three years before Awaab’s death. Concerns had also been expressed by health professionals that mould at the property could have an impact on the child’s health, but this similarly failed to lead to repair work being undertaken by the housing association.
Conditions at the family’s home do not appear to be unique, with Sky News revealing that RBH has received 106 formal complaints from tenants about damp and mould in their properties over the last 12 months. This may considerably underestimate the scale of the problem according to a former RBH employee who spoke to Sky, but it is clear that damp and mould poses an ongoing health risk to numerous housing association tenants, not only on the Freehold estate, but all across the country.
Find out more about suing a housing association for disrepair, including damp and mould: