The tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak has resulted in increased pressure on the housing sector to act. The Better Social Housing Review provides 13 suggestions calling for housing associations to provide decent, safe homes for tenants.
Michael Gove Condemns Housing Association
Michael Gove (Levelling Up Secretary) wrote to councils urging them to do everything in their power to improve housing conditions. This follows the tragedy of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who died after being exposed to mould in his home in Rochdale.
Part of the letter reads: “All of us […] need to deliver our responsibility to people living in poor quality housing. […] This becomes ever more urgent as we go into winter with a cost of living and energy crisis, which may exacerbate damp and mould conditions in some homes.”
Prior to this, Gove announced that Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), the housing association responsible for Awaab’s death, will not receive its expected £1m funding from the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) or receive any new AHP contracts. This is until the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has concluded its investigation and the association can prove it is a responsible landlord.
It has also been revealed recently that Rochdale Boroughwide Housing has been downgraded by the Regulator of Social Housing after failing to act for two years following the toddler’s passing. This came as a result of an investigation sparked by Awaab’s inquest which ruled that the toddler’s death followed prolonged exposure to mould.
The Better Social Housing Review
The tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak has resulted in increased pressure on the housing sector to act.
The Better Social Housing review calls for an audit of all 2.5 million homes in England including for damp and mould.
The report led by Helen Baker, Chair of Shelter, makes seven recommendations to the National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents housing associations in England. This audit will help assess the full scale of the issues vulnerable tenants are facing.
The review calls on all housing associations to refocus on their ‘core purpose – to provide decent, safe homes for those who can’t afford the market’.
The report also highlights the widespread concern that tenants’ voices are not heard, resulting in leaders becoming distanced from the realities of the tenant experience. To bridge this gap, the review suggests that housing associations should ‘work with tenants to ensure that they have a voice and influence at every level of decision-making across the organisation’.
CEL Solicitors are Housing Disrepair Experts
To gain better insight into the tenant experience for the Better Social Housing Review, Helen spoke with CEL Solicitors’ director and head of housing disrepair, John Lowry to understand why tenants feel they must make a claim against their landlord as a last resort.
The death of Awaab is, unfortunately, not an isolated situation. As housing disrepair specialists, we deal with a plethora of cases where landlords are refusing to provide their tenants with safe and comfortable accommodation. Tenants may have to wait years before their housing provider agrees to rectify their home, and when they do, they will often breach their agreement, leaving the tenant in an even more vulnerable position.
This tragedy shows that the state of social housing is a national crisis that can no longer be overlooked. Awaab Ishak’s death was completely preventable. He was failed by the negligence of his housing association.
CEL Solicitors hopes that the Better Social Housing Review causes a complete reform of the housing sector. We call for more and tougher sanctions to ensure that a tragedy of this sort never happens again.