'Not enough been done' to end shocking social housing conditions after death of two-year-old boy

More than 800,000 properties in England alone are known to have mould and damp problems, as Daniel Hewitt reports

Two-year-old Awaab Ishak died after “chronic exposure to harmful mould” in his family’s one-bedroom housing association flat in Rochdale.

Giving her findings on Tuesday, senior coroner Joanne Kearsley made it clear this was far from an isolated case, describing Awaab's death as a "defining moment for the housing sector".

For almost two years, ITV News has uncovered some shocking social housing conditions, speaking to residents whose complaints were being ignored even as their concerns about the impact on the health of their children escalated.

Research conducted by ITV News in 2021 found it costs the NHS £38m a year to treat people living in damp, mouldy homes.

Inhaling or touching mould spores can cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Credit: ITV News

In Bristol, Terri and her two children were living in a housing association home so plagued with mould and damp the wallpaper had be nailed to the wall.

Both her son and daughter had developed breathing difficulties, and were struggling to sleep .

In east London, Investigations Correspondent Daniel Hewitt met Takeysha and her daughter Casey who were making regular trips to the doctors with coughs and breathing problems linked to the mould and damp in the council flat.

Takeysha has consistently told her landlord the mould is unsafe but her pleas have no far not been acted on.

Terri says her complaints are being ignored. Credit: ITV News

Moulds and damp are caused by excess moisture and there are various types which can be found in homes.

More than 800,000 properties in England alone are known to have mould and damp problems, the majority of them (409,000) privately rented.

But the Housing Ombudsman thinks that is just the tip of the iceberg and told us not enough is being done.

Last year, the Housing Ombudsman for England called for a culture change in social housing, accusing landlords of blaming tenants and not taking responsibility for disrepairs following an ITV News investigation.

Richard Blakeway told ITV News he was “shocked” by the news reports, saying councils and housing associations lack empathy and respect for residents.

More than a year later, he said landlords and housing associations are still not doing enough.

"It's not going fast enough, and it's not going far enough. I think one of the things that really concerns me is that I still see, what I would describe as de-humanising language in the way that landlords respond.

Here is ITV News' first report into the shocking state of social housing some tenants have to put up with - the first of a hard-hitting series of reports

"And those words are leading to a lack of action, and that's shameful and really concerning."

At the North-West Lung Centre in Manchester, they specialise in examining the link between mould and the impact on people's health, which they say needs to be taken seriously.

"People with asthma often cannot get their asthma symptoms under control. And so they'll often be treating services; GP services, hospital services for control of their asthma. And unless someone thinks about their home environment that will often not be picked up as the thing that is really driving their symptoms," Dr Caroline Baxter, Clinical Director at UK National Aspergillosis Centre, told ITV News.

Awaab died as a result of a “severe respiratory condition caused due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home”, his inquest concluded.

Pictures of his home show the one-bed flat where he lived with his parents had a severe problem with mould, despite the family repeatedly raising concerns.

And there are fears, that if more families are ignored, there could be further devastating consequences.

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