29 September 2023
Damp and mould can be serious health risks for rented housing, since rental properties are often older and less well-maintained making them more prone to damp and mould problems.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of damp and mould. Their immune systems are not fully developed, so they are more likely to get sick from breathing in mould spores.
Moulds are a type of microorganisms that can grow and multiply in various substances such as soil, plants, animals, and food. Some moulds are harmful to human health and can cause allergic reactions, respiratory infections and other diseases, while other moulds are used to make industrial products such as food and medicine.
The size of mould spores usually ranges from 1 micron to tens of microns, and they have different shapes, some are spherical or oval, and some are elongated. Their shells are hard and smooth, which can protect the nucleus and cytoplasm inside from the external environment, thus ensuring their strong vitality.
There are three main ways mould spores are spread: airborne, contact and waterborne. Among them, airborne transmission is the most important way. When mould spores are suspended in the air, people can breathe them into their lungs, causing problems such as respiratory infections. In addition, mould spores can also be deposited on indoor walls, floors, furniture and other surfaces to form black mould spots, seriously affecting the hygiene and beauty of the indoor environment.
If you are a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to provide your tenants with a safe and healthy home. This means that you must take steps to prevent damp and mould from developing in your properties.
Here are some tips for landlords to prevent damp and mould:
On 7th September 2023, the government published guidance on ‘Understanding and addressing the health risks of damp and mould in the home’ in response to the Coroners report on the death of two year old Awaab Ishak in 2020. Awaab’s tragic death was the result of a catalogue of failures and a housing provider that ‘abdicated its responsibilities to his family and hid behind legal processes’.
The report says that every person across this country deserves to live in a home that is safe, warm and dry.
The new guidance applies to all types of accommodation providers, including:
There are a number of legislative changes that will be made to improve housing standards, including:
It is important to note that tenants should not be blamed for damp and mould, and that it is the responsibility of landlords to identify and address the underlying causes of the problem.
The government’s response to the death of Awaab Ishak is a positive step towards ensuring that all tenants have access to safe, warm, and dry homes. The legislative changes that have been announced will help to improve housing standards and protect tenants’ health.
Landlords could consider using air purifiers whilst remedial work is being carried out within their properties.
An air purifier can be used in all areas of the home and will kill harmful bacteria and viruses, as well as destroying harmful pollutants such as mould and formaldehyde, turning it into CO2 and water.
WHO Guidelines: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789289041683
Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/committee-on-the-medical-effects-of-air-pollutants-comeap
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