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Damp and Mould – “It’s not lifestyle”.


The Housing Ombudsman has released a special spotlight report addressing the issue of damp and mould, called “Spotlight on: Damp and mould. It’s not lifestyle”

It is the result of both the media spotlight on social housing conditions (ITV News with Dan Hewitt prominent amongst them), and what is described as “the high uphold rate and reoccurring reasons leading to maladministration” in the Ombudsman’s case work. (Of 410 complaints investigated, 56% resulted in findings of maladministration, 501 orders were made to put something right with 288 additional recommendations, and £123,094.57 in compensation was ordered across 222 cases, with sums over £1,000 being ordered in 21 cases.)

There is a league table of the worst performers, councils and housing associations, with some reaching maladministration findings in 91% of investigated complaints (A2 Dominion since you asked).

There are 26 recommendations, all aimed at moving social landlords from a reactive to a proactive approach, and improving their complaints and response systems.

The whole is well worth reading. There are inevitably, given that this comes from the Ombudsman, some bits that claimant lawyers will disagree with (the Ombudsman is generally not keen on tenants taking legal action). For example, in a section on the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, the report says

This is not necessarily the most effective route to resolution for residents as some registered providers will settle the claim out of court while the underlying disrepair issue remains outstanding.

I’d have to say if that was allowed to happen, the tenant’s lawyers would be at fault. Any settlement should of course include an enforceable commitment for repairs, within a set period. Sadly, enforcement action then has to be taken quite often when the landlord doesn’t carry out or complete works, but at least enforcement is possible, unlike an Ombudsman decision/order.

But this is a niggle in what is otherwise a well considered report, with recommendations that all social landlords should indeed put into practice.

In a passage that will no doubt raise applause from a lot of affected tenants, and those who act for them, the Ombudsman says:

This leads to the most sensitive area – the inference of blame on the resident and the associated onus on them when it is often not solely their issue. Our call for evidence revealed an immense frustration and sense of unfairness at the information residents are sometimes provided by landlords about issues like condensation and mould. This reoccurred so often it is appropriate to call it systemic. I met with residents who spoke about feeling patronised, even stigmatised. While I appreciate this is not intended, I would urge engagement with residents to review communication and literature, working together with them to co-design meaningful advice that shares responsibility and supports them at a distressing time. In doing so I hope the word ‘lifestyle’, when it may be a consequence of limited choices, is banished from the vernacular.

The routine refusal by landlords to accept that there are issues with a property, and to blame the tenant for the problems (‘open the windows, keep the heating on, keep the bathroom and kitchen door closed’ etc etc.) has been a huge issue for getting damp and mould dealt with. (It also doesn’t make practical sense if the bathroom and/or kitchen aren’t provided with adequate ventilation. It just ensures mould in those areas).

It is perhaps unfortunate timing for them that in the same week as the report, a housing association, Housing For Women, released a guide to tenants for ‘Managing Mould and Condensation’ which states, at page 2

Housing for Women leaflet
“Making sure your home is free of mould and damp is not only important for your health, but it is also your responsibility as a tenant.”

The Ombudsman’s recommendations might have some way to go to being realised…

PS . ITV News Dan Hewitt has an interview with the Ombudsman on the report here.


Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. Jamestown

    I cam vouch for the frustration of tenants refusing to open windows in bathrooms and then complaining about mould .

    Unfortunate for everyone. Landlord can’t do muchb ( we our extractor fans in but truthfully you need something industrial if you’re not going to open the window )

    My place inwould open the window every time I had a shower. 10 mins later close it never had mould in 3 years.

    Hut hey ho there are a million variations. Of this for lanlorrd and tenants .

    Maybe a simple checklist eg does bathroom have windows yes / no . What power of extraction fan required based on room area etc .

    Then landlords are covered and tenants csnt complain landlord hasn’t done XYZ

    • Giles Peaker

      Marvellous. Have you spent any time reading the report?

  2. DavidP

    Thanks for bringing this important report to our attention Giles, I will definitely be reading it more fully this evening.

    This is a subject I am passionate about because I suffered the “Landlord denial” and victim blaming for 3 years, along with the health issues to my lungs. When I got Covid my already damaged lungs caused me to suffer greatly with a 7 week stay in hospital.

    In that case it was a ground floor flat and it was linked to the damp proof course and I think this is a common thread.

    Landlords in the UK should consider themselves lucky, in the USA whole buildings can be condemned if the mould gets into the walls or escapes the ventilation system.

    I do think remedies for tenants need more teeth. My thinking is something like the points system we have for driving licenses. First a warning and a requirement to attend a course run by local Council. Then for second offence on same property a 2 year ban on renting the property for and a requirement that the property then requires an assessment confirming the mould has been fully treated, not just cleaned and redecorated.

    If readers of this blog are busy and think they will get back to this, if nothing else they should read the forward from Richard Blakeway and especially the summary recommendations for senior management, all 26 of them.

    I agree with Mr Blakeway when he says:

    “Our view is that landlords should adopt a zero-tolerance approach to damp and mould. This does not mean zero cases. But it does mean less fatalism.

    Fatalism that can sometimes result in a loss of empathy. The policy and legislative basis for taking a zero-tolerance attitude is compelling.

    It is clear many landlords are reacting to mould. This does not mean zero cases. But it does mean less fatalism. Fatalism that can sometimes result in a loss of empathy.

    The policy and legislative basis for taking a zero-tolerance attitude is compelling.

    It is clear many landlords are reacting to residents rather than proactively reviewing the homes and buildings they manage or lease.
    Landlords should be on the front foot identifying potential issues which, given residents rather than proactively reviewing the homes and buildings they manage or lease.

    Landlords should be on the front foot identifying potential issues.”

    Like so many things in society early intervention makes a big difference. It is not enough to clean mould because the spores can live for years waiting for damp which then reactivates them to grow.

    The additional legislation I would like to see is that a building could be condemned for mould, I believe that this is the only thing that would make Freeholders and leaseholders sit up and take action to protect their investment. I also think we need some legal penalties for the repeat offenders with the proceeds going to the Tenant as they do for RRO and Deposit protection. This will create community policing but I would like them to be run outside the Courts, either by Councils or by one a quango.

    The fact that Social Landlords appear largely in these league tables is not lost on me. That is why if we had a quango that maintained a database that Tenants could look up before signing a tenancy agreement, a bit like the MOT system, they could make informed decisions.

    What I noted from the league tables in the report is that a lot of it is in London and that Housing Associations, that said a former partner of mine lived in social housing and their Social Landlord was brilliant, after cleaning it they treated it with some sort of spray, they painted over with anti mould paint. They have been in that property for 6 years with no reoccurrence.

    I am not saying that Tenants can’t help but we must get away from this victim blaming, the property I was in had no windows in the bathroom and I always kept the bathroom door closed. The issue was nothing to do with the bathroom nor clothes drying (a common blame factor for Landlords) it was systemic in the building. Out of interest my former partner used to dry their clothes on a clothes rail and never had the mould come back.

    All it takes is that Landlords treat their property with a professional treatment, use anti mould paint (particularly around windows) and realise that they are actually protecting their investment.

  3. David Porter

    The vast majority of the time condensation and mould IS a lifestyle issue, though. Empty property – no condensation or mould. Previous tenants – no condensation or mould. New tenant – suddenly there’s condensation and mould. That is not a property issue, it’s a lifestyle issue. But trying to educate the tenant is now considered patronising and victim-blaming, and the word ‘lifestyle’ needs to be banished? Give me strength.

    • J

      A property which only develops problems once it is occupied sounds, to my untrained ear, like one which is unfit for human habitation.

      • David Porter

        J, you missed the bit where I said, “Previous tenants – no condensation or mould.” In any case, if a property does not have a condensation or mould problem when vacant, but it does when occupied, then it is indeed the lifestyle of the occupiers causing the issue. That is, putting too much water vapour into the air through cooking, washing, showering, drying clothes over radiators, etc, and not enough heating or ventilation.

        • Joe Malone

          David, you have taken anecdotal evidence and used it to draw a conclusion that simply isn’t there and here’s why… Lets assume that the property is a small two bed solid walled Victorian terraced. For many years occupied by only one person with no issues of condensation damp or mould. The property is sold to a couple with one child who within weeks of moving in start to experience issues with condensation and mould. They’re using their heating no different to the last occupant but clearly there is more cooking taking place, more showers and of course more moisture being exhaled. However, despite the problems the occupants are not actually behaving any more unreasonably than the last occupant. Your default position is that these new occupants must now be responsible for the damp problems but this is rarely the case. The property would not be considered as being over-occupied but the increase in occupants has raised internal relative humidity enough to highlight the buildings thermal bridging issues. As I constantly say, occupants cause humidity, but this is not condensation! Should a two bed property be technically capable of dealing with the normal humidity generated by three occupants? Absolutely! We have encountered over-occupancy and a technical solution is not the answer to what is a housing management issue. Of course we assess occupancy issues as part of the holistic investigation process but unreasonable behavior is rare. We recently had a lady constantly washing clothes and using an unvented tumble dryer every day that was causing RH levels of circa 90% within the property. Clearly this is an occupancy issue but dryers are now generally condensing units or vented to outside and we rarely, if ever, see calor gas heaters being used indoors, which was a problem many years ago. Problems caused by cooking without lids or drying washing indoors are overstated and we would argue that tenants have a right to dry washing indoors without being told that their behaviour is unreasonable. Properties increasingly have little or no outdoor space and many occupants have little choice but to dry washing indoors, which means that the building should be designed to facilitate this need.

    • Giles Peaker

      ‘The vast majority’? Therein lies the problem. You have no evidence for that, and clearly approach any problems with that view. Exactly the problem the Ombudsman highlighted.

      Certainly, some situations are down to tenant’s conduct. Many aren’t, and many are a mixture in which the nature of the property jointly creates or exacerbates a problem together with the tenant’s conduct. There is no problem that I can see in advising tenants how to mitigate issues. But if that is *all* you do, while telling them it is their problem, then you are the issue.

      • David Porter

        Giles, I have 35+ years’ experience as a building surveyor specialising in residential property defects. I would say less than 1% of condensation issues I’ve come across have been caused by building defects. Therefore, yes, I would say the vast majority.

        I ‘clearly approach any problems with that view’? You have absolutely no evidence for that statement; you have just assumed – wrongly – that I am ignorant of the problem.

        ‘Exactly the problem the Ombudsman highlighted’? So because I disagree with the Ombudsman’s report, this proves they are right? Circular reasoning at its finest.

        ‘Many aren’t’? What is your evidence for that, beyond the Housing Ombudsman’s report? A report which is based on flawed methodology and skewed data, limited to their own casebook and 555 self-selected, non-random survey responses. A report from an organisation which receives a fair number of complaints about itself, judging by their 1.5 rating on Google – well worth reading.

        If the HO was truly interested in solving this ‘problem’, they should have commissioned an independent survey from somebody like BRE – you know, somebody that actually knows technical stuff about buildings.

        • Giles Peaker

          And I have 15 years experience is housing defect cases, in which condensation and severe mould was caused by tenants’ actions alone in about 10% of cases, tops. So I’m afraid your argument from experience doesn’t really impress me.

          As you have just said, again, that you consider the vast majority (99%) of issues are due to tenant conduct, this is clearly your expectation – that it is highly unlikely to be anything else. It would be a surprise of such a firmly, stridently expressed belief had no impact on your approach. Indeed, it clearly does as you have dismissed any contrary views. (I have to take a sceptical approach to causes because I am looking at whether there is an arguable case on the evidence, on the other hand.)

          And then you are back again to argument from experience. Fine, my experience contradicts yours. But there is other evidence, as referenced in the report, such as the (independent) English Housing Survey, which, let us be blunt, looks at a lot more properties and more often, than you or I.

          So let us see. For social housing:

          Damp 5% of stock
          Thermal discomfort 5% of stock (This is inadequate heating, inadequate insulation or both)
          Mould and condensation – at least 3% of stock, of which a sixth (17%) had inadequate ventilation.

          Just 1% of condensation and mould affected properties not being due to tenant behaviour is, I’m afraid, demonstrably nonsense.

    • DavidP

      Without respect, that is a ridiculous argument to make. Obviously when someone leaves you clean and maybe decorate the property, then while empty there is little or no moisture in the air. When a tenant occupies a property they breathe, they boil a kettle, they use a washing machine and a Fridge. They may do the unthinkable and wash, some will even shower every day. This is called habitation. It is never sudden. Certainly get the leaflets from your council about mould and how they can help, but if your property has an inherent problem it is your obligation to fix it. When I read comments like your I too say “give me strength” and join campaigns to get such Landlord banished.

      I recently had a case of the Tenant being blamed for mould in a bathroom that had no window, we got the tenant to have a contractor inspect the fan, they removed it, took photos and made a note of the brand. It turned out to be a cheapo ebay replacement, it’s ability to extract the air was minimal, the mould behind that fan was like a huge alien blob. The strongest evidence was the photos both in the right move listing and that the Tenant was sensible enough to take on day one of the listing. They showed staining in the grouting and on the ceiling in exactly the same places.

      The Landlord withheld the deposit and when we checked it led to a claim for 9x the deposit for three tenancies, I am convinced that the mould issue swayed the Judge to award the maximum.

      Please read the report and stop living in denial, take on the suggestions and protect your investment.

      Thinking about my post above a publicly accessible fitness for habitation register would not only help tenants but potential buyers of the property so that lazy landlords could not dump the property on some other poor sod. If it cost the lazy landlord £30k in sale price then finally they might start to take notice of this very real problem which is NOT a lifestyle issue.

      • David Porter

        I’m not sure why you say, “without respect,” just because we have different views and experiences. I do agree that if a property has an inherent problem it is the landlord’s obligation to fix it. However, in my experience, it is the occupier’s lifestyle which causes the problem in the vast majority of cases I have come across.

        I have read the report. In my view it is based on flawed methodology and skewed data.

    • Martin Roy Clive McGowan

      Screammmmm!!! commonest cause of mould is water leaks, usually from guttering or roof, sometimes internal from bad plumbing. No you don’t get condensation if there is not enough heat in property. David you are pumping out moisture every minute of every day just by living. condensation occurs on cold surfaces. Clue? the reason behind the insulate Britain campaign. I have worked on social housing as a plumber. I well remember talking to people whose homes had been properly insulated, cheaper heating bills and the following winter no condensation on the walls and NO MOULD.
      Install trickle vent ventilation in every room. as for the ludicrous advice to open the bathroom windows when bathing. most people in social housing are just scraping by financially and you say let your hot air escape and heat the world. Landlords properly insulate your properties, have intelligently designed heating and ventilation systems. I am a disabled pensioner who used to work in the trade. I don’t open windows wide when showering, I do dry my washing in the bathroom, I do have my heating on at reasonable levels. My housing association had built with wall insulation, loft insulation and double glazing, my house and all my neighbours have NO condensation problems. So it is about educating the landlord into providing good well designed homes.

  4. Andrew M

    I have like experience to David Porter but see Giles’ point. Both are valid : the difference is first the means to heat the home or heat the home with open windows, means to afford a tumble drier and more likely to be overcrowded ie family flats 3 bed and up are more common on the public sector built buildings, with a higher incidence of financial stress but second, the biggest difference is the construction. Systems built homes usually apartments but some houses and where most stock was built pre 1973 when energy was cheap and insulation rarely discussed while air exchange rates were achieved by not worrying about drafts too much. latter installation of UPVC windows and doors drastically reduced natural ventilation and the cold spots moved to walls where furniture and or construction create cold spots or bridges. Standard of upkeep is vital even if water isn’t penetrating wet walls defective guttering poor pointing or rendering reduce the temperature of the wall and its u or R values. I would suggest looking at use not lifestyle and a hygrometer test, trickle vents and extractor fans and then a thermal camera and inspection \research of the construction and lapses in repair. I can think of examples where insulation behind plaster or in cavities was not installed in newer builds in a section for no obvious reason( Friday perhaps) just missing,. I would suggest both David and Giles are right in given circumstances so perhaps the maxim is ask the occupant to get their house in order BUT do likewise about your own.

  5. andrewmM

    On a related note I stumbled across an article about the design of apartments, of all values, in new york post Spanish flu where the oversized often steam radiators were designed to heat and keep windows open in winter to defeat a reoccurrence.

  6. John

    I wish to comment on some parts of the Ombudsman report in the light of my experience.

    The Housing Ombudsman report was basically about good tenant-landlord communication, but failed to emphasis the need for tenants to act promptly in reporting defects and other accommodation issues, and to keep the landlord informed of progress in resolving issues if such progress was left to the tenant working directly with contractors (page 41 case study) which is a lifestyle issue. My private rented sector tenant failed to report a water damaged cupboard, that my inspector missed, that contributed to condensation resulting in mould, hidden from my inspector due to the tenant refusing access to certain rooms. The damaged unit was spotted by chance on reviewing the random photographs take during that inspection. A year later a leak caused more mould, but was not reported, and was only discovered by a chance remark during the umpteenth conversation trying to arrange a survey. In this case two working adults and one child with frequent child visitors with no mould issues was replaced by a single adult and two children, with supposedly hardly any visitors. The mould difference, I suggest, was due to lifestyle issues, as both families were comparable in their impact: they have the same body count, hence washing, bathing and cooking count were similar, yet since the second ‘family’ moved in we have had a continuous mould issue, made worse by those two events.

    On page 30 of the report is an a generally accepted quotation, “Retrofitting energy efficiency measures such as double glazing over the last 30 years designed to make houses more efficient and lower energy bills have improved the airtightness of our homes but are making this situation worse, there has been no requirement to assess the ventilation strategy employed which means the home cannot breathe and the moisture-laden air can’t escape.” This has led to difficulty in convincing my tenant to use the double glazed window top openers in a trickle vent state for parts of the day, which I fully understand – they don’t want to increase the draughts or lose heat, yet those windows were put in to stop excessive draft, while almost every room has an air brick or chimney vent, every room has windows with top openers, so further action, apart from lining the inside walls with insulation, is unlikely to make a difference, and even then condensation will form on the windows and their surrounds! I do agree with the report recommendation, “Landlords should ensure their strategy for delivering net zero carbon homes considers and plans for how they can identify and respond to potential unintended consequences around damp and mould.” Not all these consequences can be identified. However, how does one identify the trade-off of the previously unexpected consequences of draught-proofing and other energy conservation measures against increased ventilation?

    The Ombudsman inadvertently does not understand the word lifestyle, page 31: “The term ‘lifestyle’ suggests that it is a resident’s choice to live in that way.” Of course it is! That same page implies that, “landlords do not take responsibility”. But the case example below indicates otherwise. The tenant needs to take responsibility too, more so than the landlord, as the tenant is the one that can achieve a “stitch in time will save nine”, and hence reduce nine-tenths of their anguish (if the landlord is responsive)!

    Recommendation 11 underpins the whole thesis of this report, and is not supported by evidence intros report, for landlords to “avoid automatically apportioning blame or using language that leaves residents feeling blamed.”

    The Housing Ombudsman report, “Spotlight on: Damp and mould. It’s not lifestyle”, page 24 had a case example of what it dealt with, where a landlord repeatedly installed numerous air bricks for the tenant’s property to increase ventilation, all fairly quickly done, with compensation to the tenant on each occasion. I was shocked to find the Ombudsman’s decision as, “We found service failure”, and caused the landlord to pay further compensation. I did not see any service failure in this example. The landlord on receiving a mould report arranged fro a survey with the result, “A damp survey indicated there was no evidence of damp in or around the bedroom wall.” It appears that during a second inspection, “the landlord noted the ventilation brick had been blocked by expanding foam, which it attributed to the previous tenant”, and reading between the lines, this should have been found before the new tenant had moved in. The landlord was not aware of this despite redecorating, a survey and an inspection probably aimed at checking original and new ventilation bricks. The conclusion was that, “Landlords should ensure that they thoroughly inspect empty properties before re-letting them and consider whether the property is suitable for re-letting in its current state.” They did however make one good suggestion, “Does your void checklist cover the repairs history of the property as well as checking ventilation such as air bricks and extractors?”. In a separate case study, page 38, in my view, despite extensive work being done and compensation being made, the Ombudsman still required the landlord to pay additional compensation as the landlord had not been pedantic in its efforts: “we found that the landlord did not adequately investigate the cost of running the dehumidifiers and that it could have offered Mr E more assistance with acquiring the basic furniture he needed to return to his home.” I suggest the dehumidifier costs were small compared to the compensation already provided, and that finding basic furniture would have been a nice gesture, but if the place came furnished in the first place, then I would assume that would not be necessary, and if it did not come furnished, to offer to help acquire furniture was going that one extra step of achieving a high quality service, a nicety but not a necessity, in the absence of further information on that case.

    These case examples illustrates the mindset of the Ombudsman to favour the tenant over fairness to both parties, a reflection of popular opinion about landlords in general. However, many of the suggested questions are suitable for undertaking an audit of landlord activities, e.g detailed note taking of initial incidence events may produce clear evidence of tenant failures, not just that of landlords! Also, a read of the body text results in useful tips for landlords for their tenant interactions.

    I could go on, but suffice to say, that detailed note taking is necessary but is never enough, as being human, we may not note remarks that subsequently may be significant, but because we remember them and they were not noted, it is one person’s word against another, and with tenants generally seen as the under-dog, they benefit unfairly. At the end of the day, the landlord needs to provide what they believe is suitable accommodation and be responsive to tenant remarks, and tenants need to treat their homes as if they owned it, took responsibility for maintaining it in coordination with their landlords, and changing their lifestyle if recommended to minimise the risk of mould formation and damage to the property that is their home.

    • Giles Peaker


      A brief response to your long, but wrong comment.

      The problem is that you don’t understand the report. One example will suffice. You said

      “The Housing Ombudsman report, “Spotlight on: Damp and mould. It’s not lifestyle”, page 24 had a case example of what it dealt with, where a landlord repeatedly installed numerous air bricks for the tenant’s property to increase ventilation, all fairly quickly done, with compensation to the tenant on each occasion. I was shocked to find the Ombudsman’s decision as, “We found service failure”, and caused the landlord to pay further compensation. I did not see any service failure in this example.”

      Did you not actually read the heading and detail of the case example? It is headed “Case study – Landlord failed to take proactive action to ensure property was of a decent standard” – the point being that the property was severely defective at the point it was let to the tenant. The landlord hadn’t checked. There was no ventilation. The walls were damp (wallpaper falling off within a week of being put up). It is an obligation under fitness for human habitation (s.9A Landlord and Tenant Act 1985) that the property is fit for habitation at the start of the tenancy. This property wasn’t, so the landlord was straightforwardly in breach of its obligations.

      And then the landlord did works that didn’t resolve the problem, left the tenant out of his home in temporary accommodation for well over 3 months and then, which is the ombudsman’s part, screwed up their own complaints process.

      The ombudsman – astonishingly – didn’t order any additional compensation (you couldn’t even get that bit right). So somehow £750 in compensation and £870 in special damages was all the tenant got for months of disruption and damage to their belongings, for a property that – and you missed this bit too – the landlord admitted *should never have been let in that condition*.

      The rest of your comment seems to amount to a variation on the theme of ‘keep the heating on and open the windows’, so it is perhaps not a surprise that you got that case study so catastrophically wrong.

      Are you a private landlord or do you work for a social landlord?

  7. John

    It seems that Giles Peaker on 17/03/2022 at 10:06 pm is the one who has made several assumptions and has not based his remarks on the words used in the case study. Like newspaper headings, they can be misleading: one always needs to look at the facts presented, and not make assumptions that do not appear in the report as if they do. My clarifications and assumptions are in brackets below.

    The story goes as follows:
    “Within three months of moving into his home, Mr A reported that the wall in his bedroom was wet and there was extensive mould” indicates that he was in occupation for more than a month. Three months since occupation and a little time later it was stated that, “the landlord found wallpaper that had been put up a week earlier was already peeling off”, implying either that the tenant or landlord had put up the wallpaper and it was then that the mould or damp issue was reported. The tenant could have reported the problem a month or two earlier, as mould or damp appears within a week or two of occupation, if none were present before-hand. The decorator too could have initiated a report, as it would be clear that mould existed at the time of decoration. So, when the problem first occurred is uncertain from this transcript. “Following a further inspection … The landlord ordered the installation of additional air bricks in three rooms”. Note, “additional air bricks”, implying others existed, but not necessarily in those rooms. “Additional” to what is not clear, as we know that at least one air brick was “blocked by expanding foam”, no doubt to reduce heating costs or draughts “attributed to the previous tenant.” The void period was not stated, and the reason for the previous tenant leaving was not stated. These are crucial bits of evidence that needed to be in the case study. It is clear that the landlord was optimistic in returning the tenant to the property after remedial work, but did not do so as “the remedial works had not solved the problem … “foul smell and sheer amount of mould growth” that clearly arose during occupation. Instead of removing mouldy carpets, etc, at this time, the landlord decided to dry them out, hence delaying the return of the tenant, made longer by the landlord adding yet more air bricks as “The landlord ordered further air bricks and left the property to dry out.” The implication is that the property had at least one air brick, had three more added, then more again. This could be as Giles Peaker on 17/03/2022 at 10:06 pm wrote, because the place was uninhabitable in the first place, or because the landlord was making sure this problem would not occur again. During the above, the tenant was compensated, perhaps adequately, for the damage to their private property, as it was accepted by the tenant.

    It seems that even with all of the above attempts to stop further mould arising, with no evidence it had arisen again, or under advisement as typically occurs with severe mould situations, and possibly because the smell remained , “Three months later, the landlord ordered further remedial works including the removal of plaster in the hallway and bedrooms, and the installation of foil-backed plasterboard. It subsequently fitted new flooring, a new radiator and adjusted the internal doors which had swollen due to the amount of moisture in the property: a major improvement to heat conservation and the possibly heating (cynically, I might say because the place cooled down too much with all that additional ventilation, and the old radiator was not as efficient as the new one).

    It was not stated why the tenant made a further complaint. I was left with the impression, from the above, that the tenant had returned to the property some weeks after the possibly incomplete drying out process, and then had to move out again, or live with, the renovation work that was undertaken. I can only assume the compensation request was for the inconvenience caused by the renovation work being undertaken, as indirectly confirmed by the landlord subsequently offering “to pay a cleaning company to clean his sofa, carpet, and cushions, to replace Mr A’s bed and bedding” and an offer of compensation “in recognition of the disruption caused” which was accepted “apart from the cleaning of furnishings, as he wanted to replace the sofa”. In this instance, the landlord had not made an offer of cleaning and disruption compensation until the issue was escalated, so the landlord could have done better – perhaps they too had enough of the situation and felt that the improvements outweighed the need for compensation, but I do agree that cleaning should have been paid for, if it was needed due to the renovation work.

    Finally, the “Outcome” was a “service failure in the landlord’s response to the reports of damp and mould and its complaint handling . We found the landlord had not adequately inspected the property prior to re-letting it and had failed to inspect the ventilation bricks. The landlord acknowledged the property was in such a poor state that it should not have been re-let.” That last statement may be simply to appease the Ombudsman, or be as Giles Peaker on 17/03/2022 at 10:06 pm stated, “the landlord admitted *should never have been let in that condition*. However, there is no evidence to support this in this case study, even though I suspect Giles is correct.

    I think the above is sufficient, but in recognition that Giles may not recognise this:
    – “Did you not actually read the heading and detail of the case example?” Yes, I did.
    – “the property was severely defective at the point it was let to the tenant.” There is no evidence of this, only a remark made by a cornered landlord agreeing, so far as I can tell, because the air vents were not checked, and that improved wall insulation by use of foil-backed plasterboard ought to be helpful in this situation. The tenant did not raise a complaint before or shortly after moving in as I would have done if that was the case.
    – “The landlord hadn’t checked.” There is no evidence of this. This is highly unlikely as the Ombudsman simply criticised the landlord for not checking the air bricks.
    – “There was no ventilation.” Yes there was – supposedly blocked by the previous tenant.
    – “And then the landlord did works that didn’t resolve the problem”. The landlord took a reactionary response and installed more air bricks, but there is no evidence that this did not resolve the problem, where I assume you mean the problem being damp and mould. I interpreted the final problem was the smell from the carpets.
    – “left the tenant out of his home in temporary accommodation for well over 3 months”. This statement does not appear anywhere in the case study.
    – the landlord “screwed up their own complaints process”. The landlord was responsive to the first complaint. They did not meet a proposed timescale for a response to the second complaint, for which the tenant could have simply written a chaser, but instead asked for escalation. This could be down to human error, not a sure-up.
    – “The ombudsman – astonishingly – didn’t order any additional compensation”. I read it otherwise. The landlord’s second offer of compensations was £500 plus cleaning costs. The Ombudsman ordered that the £500 was to be paid. In addition, the Ombudsman ordered the “landlord to pay the £870 to Mr A directly instead of the cleaning company so Mr A could replace his sofa”, and in addition, “to replace the items. So the additional compensation was £870 and new items that included a new sofa and other unspecified items and the money that would have been paid to a sofa cleaning company.
    – “The rest of your comment seems to amount to a variation on the theme of ‘keep the heating on and open the windows’.” This is incorrect, as my opening remark was “The Housing Ombudsman report was basically about good tenant-landlord communication, but failed to emphasis the need for tenants to act promptly in reporting defects and other accommodation issues, and to keep the landlord informed of progress in resolving issues” with my closing remarks including, “many of the suggested questions are suitable for undertaking an audit of landlord activities” and the report has “useful tips for landlords for their tenant interactions”, finalising as “the landlord needs to provide what they believe is suitable accommodation and be responsive to tenant remarks, and tenants need to treat their homes as if they owned it”.

    The remarks by Giles Peaker on 17/03/2022 at 10:06 pm simply reflect the human experience: we filter what we read, see, hear and feel by our own interpretations of what we perceive and provide our own assumptions as if they are facts to suit our own viewpoints. That is why eye witness statements cannot be relied upon!

    • Giles Peaker

      Oh dear. John, my reply was simply to demonstrate that you were reading what you wanted to read, not what was there actually. I did so. You’ve now demonstrated it again, at huge length.

      And I’ll leave it there, because there is nothing that needs to be added.

  8. David

    JOHN, If we are going to talk about filtering what we read, I tend to completely ignore over long paragraphs.

    If you really want people to read your diatribe, then split it into readable paragraphs and put a clean line between them.

    You might be making perfectly good points but I just skipped the whole post.

    Also criticising people mentioning the time of their comment twice is not necessary, each post can be replied to and your comment will be nested.


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