Father of Awaab Ishak welcomes new proposals for social landlords to fix problems

There is concern among campaigners about how the law could be implemented, ITV News' North of England Correspondent Rachel Townsend reports

The father of a two-year-old who died after exposure to mould at his housing association flat has voiced his support for proposals to bring in a strict timeframe for landlords to fix problems.

The new requirements are part of a consultation on measures under legislation named after Awaab Ishak, who died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to mould in his home in Rochdale.

Those landlords who fail to meet proposed new legal requirements could end up in court under the proposals which have gone out for consultation from Tuesday, 9 January.

Awaab's father has insisted landlords must listen to tenants’ concerns and said he hopes legislation in his son’s name can prevent other families facing their painful experience.

Awaab Ishak's father has welcomed the new proposals. Credit: ITV News

Faisal Abdullah said: "We hope that Awaab’s Law will stop any other family going through the pain that we went through.

"Landlords need to listen to the concerns of tenants and we support these proposals."

Requirements under the new legislation would require social landlords to investigate hazards within 14 days, start fixing within a further seven days, and make emergency repairs within 24 hours.

The consultation proposes that landlords who fail to act on issues within the timeframe can be taken to court where they might be ordered to pay compensation for tenants.

Awaab died after prolonged exposure to mould in his family's housing association flat.

The department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said that under the new measures, landlords would be expected to keep clear records to improve transparency for tenants, in order to avoid "dither and delay to rectify people’s homes".

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: "Today is about stronger and more robust action against social landlords who have refused to take their basic responsibilities seriously for far too long.

"We will force them to fix their homes within strict new time limits and take immediate action to tackle dangerous damp and mould to help prevent future tragedies."

Awaab Ishak. Credit: Family photograph

The department said the consultation is the latest step in addressing "systemic issues" identified in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, including how tenants are treated by their landlords as well as the general safety and quality of social housing.

The consultation was launched just as the UK’s largest housing association was separately ordered to pay thousands in compensation after failing to deal promptly with residents’ complaints on damp, mould and leaks.

In its latest report, the Housing Ombudsman made a finding of severe maladministration in three separate cases involving Clarion Housing.

The housing association apologised to residents for its "shortcomings" as it was ordered to pay £10,800 to the affected households in London and Kent.

The ombudsman said there had been "delay, poor communication and ineffective action" from the housing group, with residents in each case having had to go to "extraordinary lengths for the landlord to take action, which should not have been necessary".

Awaab Ishak died just after his second birthday. Credit: Family photograph

Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway said: “In these cases, residents had to go to extraordinary lengths for the landlord to take action, which should not have been necessary."

He said complaints about leaks, damp and mould have "increased significantly in the past year and these cases show where landlords can make decisive changes to improve its service for residents".

He urged landlords to "take any reports of leaks and damp seriously, take responsive action and ensure residents feel they are being treated with respect and empathy" especially in the wake of recent wet weather and storms.

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