Awaab Ishak: Widespread failings at mould death housing groupon December 15, 2022 at 8:38 am

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A housing group “failed to respect” the family of a two-year-old boy who died after exposure to mould.

Awaab IshakImage source, Family handout

A government regulator has found “widespread failings” at the housing association that rented out a mouldy flat to the family of Awaab Ishak.

The two-year-old died from a respiratory condition caused by exposure to the mould, a coroner ruled.

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) said Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) had failed to “treat Awaab Ishak’s family with fairness and respect”.

It said it was “taking action to make sure RBH addresses these failings”.

Awaab’s family had repeatedly complained about mould in their flat but no action was taken before his death in 2020.

In November, the family accused the housing provider of being “racist” and failing to provide fair treatment to people moving to the UK.

RSH – the government body which monitors social housing providers in England – said it had found “significant failings in the way RBH deals with damp and mould across the organisation”.

Mould in bathroom

Image source, Greater Manchester Police

The regulator found the housing group had waited nearly two years after Awaab’s death to check for damp and mould in other homes on the estate.

When that eventually happened, they found hundreds of tenants living with damp and mould.

RBH had “failed to act quickly and protect more tenants from potential harm”, the regulator said.

Other findings included:

  • RBH gave the regulator inadequate information shortly after Awaab Ishak’s death
  • Weaknesses in its IT and internal communications, which led to vital information and risks being missed
  • Incorrect assumptions about the cause of the damp and mould
  • The housing association failed to act to resolve the issues

RSH chief executive Fiona MacGregor said: “Our investigation reveals significant failures in the way RBH manages damp and mould in its homes, resulting in harm to tenants.

“The tragic death of Awaab Ishak should have led to action to establish wider risks, but RBH failed to respond quickly or effectively. This is unacceptable.

“RBH needs to address the issues we have found and we will take further action if it fails to do so.”

Awaab's mother Aisha Amin and father Faisal Abdullah

The BBC has contacted RBH for a response.

The group previously apologised and said it had set up a specialist task force to deal with damp and mould.

RSH said housing associations and councils “need to ensure their homes are well maintained” and landlords “need to have systems in place to ensure their homes are free from hazardous levels of damp and mould, and deal with issues promptly”.

Landlords nationally have been ordered to submit evidence to the RSH by Monday about how they deal with damp and mould, or face “appropriate action”.

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