Author : Anthony Kingdon
UK Government Initiates Landlord Clampdown, Announces Measures To Protect Tenants
The tragic death of Awaab Ishak from exposure to spores in the family’s rented flat in the UK has stirred up a huge controversy. The Awaab family says they had repeatedly raised the mould problem with the property owners, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), but that they did nothing of value except scrubbing and painting the walls occasionally.
UK’s Housing Secretary Michael Gove announced that the government will always act to protect tenants.
The claim comes as part of an announcement that the government will provide cash to seven areas to clamp down on negligent and unresponsive private landlords. Against the backdrop of Awaab Ishak’s death, the government has also announced a cash squeeze on social landlords who fail to perform their duties. Mould occurs primarily due to condensation. Condensation can be prevalent in many homes, but more particularly in homes constructed many years ago without cavity walls, and/or cavity wall insulation, and with inadequate provisions for heating and ventilation. Condensation is, however, made more likely or worse if the occupants seal up air vents (say with plastic), and don't wipe down windows where hot humid air from showers, cooking, and so on touches a colder surface. Water droplets will form when the humid air touches a colder surface, causing the water contained in hot humid air to 'condense'.
The enemy of condensation is ventilation as, all things being equal, if the air temperature and respective humidity were the same inside and outside a property then condensation would not occur. Enter the need to ventilate, which is why since about the 1990s new double-glazed windows come fitted as standard with trickle vents to introduce airflow which reduces the propensity for condensation.
The mould that comes when the natural water droplets of hot air condensing are not wiped away appears as pinpoint black spots. In a room there will usually manifest themselves in poorly ventilated spaces, such as the backside of cupboards and wardrobes, or beside a bed. Condensation control can be achieved by ensuring sufficient heating, proper insulation, and ample ventilation - which includes airflow between rooms as well as to the outdoors. Having lots of wet washing around is certainly not helpful either. Mould can be controlled and eliminated using a dehumidifier or by washing the affected surface with a disinfectant or fungicidal wash. However, the cause of the condensation needs to be addressed as washing or treating a wall will only last until the next time hot humid conditions are allowed to prevail. That said, there are also paints and sprays that inhibit mould and minimize the effects of condensation taking root as mould and spores, insofar as they cause water droplets to run away rather than take root.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced that £14m is to be distributed to seven areas. These areas are identified as having the highest numbers of poor privately rented homes. The funding will help in testing new approaches to driving up living standards. A major part of the fund allocation is for the following areas:
· £2.3m for Greater Manchester. It includes Rochdale and surrounding councils, and the aim is to increase the use of fines for rogue landlords.
· £678,000 for Leeds for using behavioral science to change the culture among landlords and for improving their knowledge and skills.
· £1.14m for Cornwall to build a database of privately rented accommodation in the area. The authorities can use the fund to record improvement efforts and target better enforcement action.
The authorities have made it clear that the social landlord at the center of the tragic case of Awaab Ishak, the Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), will not be provided the £1m funding from the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP). RBH will also not receive any new AHP contracts for new homes until the Regulator of Social Housing completes the investigations. The landlord must re-establish his credentials of being a responsible owner to be eligible for future benefits.
Gove also says the government will monitor the housing standards of RBH tenancies continuously. The authorities will work with the Regulator and Ombudsman to ensure that tenants are not deprived of the expected standards of quality housing. Wider crackdown measures are being drawn up, according to Gove. The Housing Secretary is firm on blocking new AHP funding to housing providers that do not comply with the consumer standards set by the Regulator. They must make the improvements needed to become eligible for such funds.
Gove is also considering stripping such providers of existing AHP funding unless they have already started construction on the site.
The Housing Secretary sent letters to the councils and housing associations last weekend, urging them to improve the quality standards dramatically and demanding urgent action when people complain about dampness and mould. RBH failed its tenants, so it will not receive a penny of additional taxpayers' money for new housing until it gets its act together and does right by tenants. Let this be a warning to other housing providers who are ignoring complaints and failing in their obligations to tenants. We will not hesitate to act, Gove added. The government’s stance is very clear: Everyone deserves the right to live in a safe, decent home. The tenants can trust the government to always act promptly to protect their rights. Ringley are committed to both tenant education and to working with landlords who are reliable, trustworthy and ethically engaged in their tenants’ wellbeing.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
Strategic partnerships, holistic delivery/ opportunities, growth, value engineering, thought leadership
Ian Barber MD BTR Mobilisation & Leasing
Runs HQ & site lease-up teams. Drives rent pricing, mobilisation, marketing, happy residents!
Jon Curtis MRICS Head of Building Engineering
Chartered Building Surveyor. Lectures on EWS1 & building safety. Runs CapEx programmes.
Kate Robinson MIRPM MD Blocks/FM Management (London Region)
Master plan setup, ops and staffing and resident engagement. ISO45001 champion.
Lee Harle Partner Ringley Law
Plot conveyancing. Debt litigation. Group Company Secretary.
Anthony Kingdon MIRPM AssocRICS MD Blocks/FM Management (North Region)
Stakeholder engagement. Mixed tenure specialist. Budget management. Plant audit, PPM compliance.
Chris Georgalis MRICS Head of Commercial Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental valuations: retail, leisure. IRR modelling and valuations for secured lending. Compulsory purchase & rent reviews
Nichola Pughe MRICS Head of Residential Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental development & mixed use valuations, IRR modelling. Leasehold enfranchisement specialist
Libby Chen MSc Compliance Manager
Operational Plant & Equipment strategy PPM Compliance lead, Asset tagging Client major projects
Dipesh Parekh Director PlanetRent
Customer centric, vertically integrated PropTech/fin-tech solutions.
Leana Aristodemou MIRPM MARLA AssocRICS Strategic lead: ESG & Asset Business Plan delivery
Financial modelling, valuation analyst to support underwriting & fund reporting.
Natalie Birmingham Helpdesk Support Manager
Trainer & Helpdesk Manager: people, systems,contractors. ISO45001 supply chain accreditation.
Steve Norman Planning Director
Land due diligence (opportunities & constraints) Has contributed to a number of award winning schemes.