Investigation launched into 'disgusting' damp and mouldy council housing after ITV News report
ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt shares the stories of two tenants struggling to live in mould-infested flats
The Housing Ombudsman has launched an investigation into "disgusting" social housing conditions after ITV News reports revealed damp and mould was widespread throughout the UK.
Following an initial report on "unliveable" conditions in a number of homes in the London borough of Croydon, ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt was "inundated" with "hundreds and hundreds" of examples.
ITV News investigations have found there is a "growing problem with severe mould and damp" throughout the UK, with councils often not dealing with residents' complaints.
Daniel Hewitt explains how tenants are being blamed for mould in their homes
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said mould and damp in someone's home can have a "significant" impact on their health and their life chances.
He said he's also "concerned that we are not seeing cases where we could help, and want to investigate further into this issue".
He said he wants to use new powers to look "in-depth at the response of social landlords to damp and mould issues".
Housing scandal: ITV News uncovers widespread problems with leaks, damp and mould in tower blocks across UK
'The worst I've ever seen': The appalling and 'unliveable' council housing conditions some have endured during lockdown
"I want us to make far-reaching recommendations to promote greater understanding and learning, helping landlords develop their approach to the benefit of residents."
An initial review of case data found there had been a "high rate" of "maladministration" on cases that feature damp and mould over the last two years.
It said the fact that £68,000 in compensation had been ordered in same period showed "significant impact on residents in some cases".
'We've seen hundreds and hundreds of examples': Daniel Hewitt on the widening housing crisis:
Following the ITV News report in Croydon, the local council issued an apology and took strides toward addressing the issue, with one resident being rehomed.
Public reaction to the report was huge, with social media users labelling the conditions uncovered as "disgusting", "horrible", "heartbreaking", and more.
The Ombudsman wants to publish the findings of its investigation by autumn, and aims to "make far-reaching recommendations that promote greater understanding of the complexity of tackling damp and mould and share best practice across the sector".
But those with private landlords will not have their concerns addressed as the Ombudsman investigation will only look at council housing and housing associations.
Citizens Advice, which has received 49% more complaints this year about unacceptable living conditions, says the Ombudsman investigation should look at all housing.
'Unliveable' housing conditions could be part of 'wider systemic problem', council leader says
What should you do if your landlord does not repair your home?
Katie Martin, director of external affairs at Citizens Advice said the problem is a "real imbalance of power" between tenants and landlords.
Speaking to ITV News she said: "Landlord are still able to evict a tenant for no reason whatsoever.
"So many people live in fear, that if they make complaints, if they cause problems for their landlords by insisting that they get repairs done, they're going to get evicted and all too often that happens."
The Housing Ombudsman has issued a call for evidence to tenants and landlords, asking them to provide information to the information.
People wishing to submit evidence can do so here.