Gove is calling for action from councils and accommodation providers following the death of Awaab Ishaq

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dated: 2022-11-20 00:03:27 .

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has written to all English council chiefs and social housing providers warning that a death like that of two-year-old Awaab Ishaq “must never happen again”.

An inquest into Awaab’s death sparked an outcry this week after it was revealed he died of a mold-related respiratory illness in December 2020 in the one-bedroom council-owned flat he lived in with his parents Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Amin in Rochdale lived in Greater Manchester.

Gareth Swabrick, chief executive of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), was sacked on Saturday.

Mr Gove, who earlier this week said it was “incredible” that Mr Swarbrick was still in his post, wrote a letter to all local authority chief executives in England, as well as a separate letter to all social housing providers.

On the latter, he said the country needed to “dramatically raise” the bar on the quality of social housing and “empower tenants” to ensure “their voices are really heard”.

He said housing providers should carry out assessments of damp and mold in their properties, as well as any actions that may need to be taken to address the problem.

In his letter he warns sellers: “I would like to clarify what this must mean in relation to damp and mold as I am aware of many cases where this has not been addressed for too long and I am concerned that this is not the case.” The case is being treated with sufficient seriousness.

“Where people complain about damp and mold, you have to listen; where you find them, you must act immediately. To keep tenants safe, you can’t hide behind lawsuits.”

In a letter to council leaders, Mr Gove described Awaab’s death as an “avoidable loss”.

“All of us – including my department – ​​must take up our responsibilities towards people living in substandard housing.

“I am therefore writing to ask you to do everything in your power to prioritize improving housing conditions for millions of private and social tenants, in line with existing obligations under the Housing Act 2004.

“This becomes more urgent as we enter winter with a livelihood and energy crisis, which can exacerbate damp and mold conditions in some homes.”

The letter directs local authorities to provide his department with an assessment of damp and mold problems affecting their privately rented properties and details of how they are being dealt with.

Two-year-old Awaab Ishak died in December 2020 (Family Journal/PA)

Councils were also asked to list the number of civil penalties and successful prosecutions in relation to dangerous damp and mould.

Mr Gove said: “The tragic death of Awaab Ishaq has rightly shocked people across the country. This is a horrific case of extreme seriousness and it is appalling that anyone in Britain has to live in such conditions today.”

The housing minister, who is promising the government’s social housing bill will bring stricter regulation to the sector, said he would “stand up for landlords”.

“As well as bringing in new legislation to tighten social housing regulations, I am directing all councils across England to undertake an urgent assessment of the housing conditions for tenants in their area, with a particular focus on damp and mold problems and enforcement action taken. .

“I am putting housing providers on notice, I will do whatever it takes to improve standards across the country and ensure that the voices of tenants are heard.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe in their home and the death of a child like Awaab Ishak must never happen again.”

Shadow Leveling Secretary Lisa Nandy said there was “no excuse” for the lack of progress on the issue.

“The circumstances surrounding Awaab Ishaq’s death are appalling,” the Labor MP said.

“It robs the conscience of our nation that something like this could happen in modern Britain.

“There is political consensus on the urgent need to end the scourge of families living in damp, musty and neglected conditions, so there is no excuse for further delays.

“As Labor has argued, we need decent housing standards fit for the 21st century and more rights and protections for tenants, including the right to demand speedy repairs. Something must be done urgently.”

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Gove is calling for action from councils and accommodation providers following the death of Awaab Ishaq

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