Safe housing

It should not take the tragic death of a two-year-old to prompt those who rent out properties to consider appropriate safety measures. But this is the result of the death of little Awaab Ishak. His recent inquest revealed that he died in 2020 aged two after prolonged exposure to mould in the house which his parents rented from a housing association. Even though Awaab's parents had told the housing association as early as 2017 about the mould in the property, the association continued to argue for some considerable time that the tenants had caused the mould due to their lifestyle and bathing habits. The truth finally came out at the inquest but of course this was far too late for the little boy.

The case has prompted the Regulator of Social Housing to write to large, registered housing providers to remind them of their responsibility to ensure that the homes they provide are well maintained and of a decent standard. Property owners are reminded in the letter that damp and mould are potential hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and all providers should have systems in place to deal with such properties promptly and effectively.

However, the much wider point arising from these tragic circumstances is that all landlords, of whatever size, should ensure that their tenants live in decent homes.

In March 2019, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that rented houses and flats are 'fit for human habitation', meaning that they are safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm. The Act applies to tenants who rent privately, rent from housing associations or rent from their local council. If a rented house is not fit for human habitation, the tenant can take their landlord to court to require the landlord to carry out repairs and put right health and safety problems. The court can also require the landlord to pay compensation to the tenant.

No family renting a property should have to go through the tragedy of Awaab Ishak. If you are a tenant and you believe that your property does not meet the required standard, you should consider taking legal advice from a housing lawyer.

Alternatively, if you are a landlord and you are unsure as to your obligations under the Act, contact us.

To discuss this or any other landlord and tenant matter, contact us.

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