Resident Questions for Housing Area Panel


Reference: N3.3

Question Title

Damp and Mould

Date question raised


Week of Area Panel


Area in city


Star rating applied by residents

3 stars – city wide

Deadline for officer response

9am on 19th January

Name of officer responding

Grant Ritchie

Officer job title

Head of Repairs and Maintenance

Resident Question


There are major problems with damp and mould in Council properties across Brighton and Hove. Residents have found it extremely difficult to get the Council to take the issue seriously when these are reported, and for the Council to take action to resolve the problems. Meanwhile residents have had to live in terrible conditions, impacting adversely on their health.


Residents in the North area reported numerous cases of damp and mould in properties across Moulsecoomb, Coldean and Hollingdean. Some of the cases reported are so severe that residents have developed respiratory issues. One resident reported that the damp is so extreme that her floor is soaked and the pipes are dripping. Multiple residents have reported that their possessions have had to be thrown out repeatedly due to mould caused by damp.

They also reported that the stock response they get from Repairs is to either close windows, or to open windows, and being told the damp is caused by condensation.

Residents also wanted to point out that many people in Council properties are on low incomes and many are not putting on the heating this winter because they cannot afford to: it is not helpful to be told by Council workers to put the heating on, or to open windows under these circumstances.

When repairs do take place, they are temporary fixes, rather than getting to the root of the problem, and the damp and mould come back.

There have been many reports in the media recently about the effects of damp and mould on health. The government has issued a letter requiring social housing providers to put systems in place to ensure that their properties are free from a hazardous level of damp and mould, and to deal with cases promptly and effectively – and not to blame residents’ lifestyles.

Action requested:

Same as West Area. Residents in North Area:

·         Request a report and discussion at next Area Panel (February 2023) on what action the Council is taking around damp and mould. This should include:

·         What information the Council currently have on the extent of damp and mould issues in Council properties.

·         What action the Council has taken in response to the Housing Ombudsman’s report (published in November 2021).

·         Request Area Panel updates on the Council’s response to the Government.
The Council have been asked to provide extensive information to the Government on how they are ensuring that the Decent Homes Standard is met for damp and mould:

·         How will the Council ensure that damp and mould cases are identified and dealt with promptly and effectively when raised by tenants and residents?

Officer Response

Officer contact details:

Grant Ritchie

Officer Response:

Q. What information the Council currently have on the extent of damp and mould issues in Council properties.


As a council, we are committed to working with our tenants and residents to address the issues of damp and mould and ensure the health and safety of those living in our homes.


Our approach is to work with tenants to understand the cause of the damp and mould issues they may face and work together to find a solution.  While there are some measures a tenant can take to reduce damp and mould problems, we recognise that there may be other factors outside of a tenant’s control.  This may be linked to issues such as: vulnerability; low income; overcrowding in some of our homes; increases in heating costs; a lack of clothes drying facilities in flats.


Unfortunately, condensation dampness issues do occur in our housing stock. Different properties have different challenges, for example lack of adequate insulation or adequate ventilation, insufficient heating system, or the condition of the external fabric (brickwork, pointing etc).


There may be barriers to resident reporting problems. We try to work with tenants and other stakeholders to remove barriers to ensure tenants are able to engage with our services, and to report issues, including damp and mould.


We are working hard to maintain our continuous improvement of the standard of our council housing stock. Helping residents live in well insulated, efficiently heated, healthy homes is a key investment objective, supported through our Housing Revenue Account (HRA) capital programme.  In terms of asset management there will be particular emphasis on improvements in property insulation, window installation and mechanical ventilation. 


Our 23/24 budget proposals include investment of over £34m in existing council homes, including increasing our investment in damp and condensation measures as well as our overall investment in planned and major works.


As a service we have seen a significant increase in reports of dampness and condensation in our homes following the tragic case in Rochdale.


As reported to Housing Committee in Chairs’ communication on the 18th of January, we currently have 708 damp jobs raised with our Housing Repairs and Maintenance service. This represents a 33% increase since December 2022. As well as utilising our in-house Repairs and Maintenance resource we have also increased our specialist contractor capacity to address the number of reports we currently have.


Q. What action the Council has taken in response to the Housing Ombudsman’s report (published in November 2021).


In October 2021, the Housing Ombudsman released a spotlight report on damp and mould issues.  This produced a 26-point list of recommended improvements for landlord to consider how their current and future approach can be modified/improved to better manage this serious issue. We have used these recommendations as guidance when shaping our response to damp and mould concerns and particularly when selecting the specialist contractors (outlined below) to support us with this work. We have also increased our budget allocation for this work in the budget proposals for 2023 / 2024.


Q. Update Area Panel on the Council’s response to the Government. How are the Council ensuring that the decent homes standard is met for damp and mould. How will the Council ensure that damp and mould cases are identified and dealt with promptly and effectively.


We have responded to the Social Housing Regulator with the information they have requested from all social landlords.


The Council have a proactive approach to managing damp works. We have a dedicated team to manage reported damp concerns. To support this team and extend the scope of our works we have appointed a number of specialist contractors. This will give us additional resource to respond to damp problems and be more proactive in dealing with the route cause.


This group of contractors is designed to provide:

·         Specialist surveying resource

·         Specialist damp treatment works

·         Specialist damp remedial works

·         Cavity wall insulation


We are working with colleagues in other council services, including Families, Children and Learning and Public Health, to identify families and vulnerable individuals particularly at risk. We are also working to identify properties with damp and mould and raise awareness to the risks and the need to report cases.


Since the tragic death in Rochdale reported in the national media we have seen a significant increase in cases of damp and mould as awareness grows. We are currently focusing on our response to these cases. We do this in three phases,


1.    Visit the property to access the extent of the mould, establish the priority and specify remedial works.

2.    Wash Down the affected area and apply anti-fungal treatment and anti mould paint.

3.    In cases where penetrating damp is identified undertake remedial works to remove the source of the damp.


The majority of damp and mould reported is as a result of condensation. In these cases, we will generally wash down the affected area and apply treatments. During this visit we will also talk to tenants about the causes of condensation and try and help establish if there is anything that the tenant can do to reduce the risk of condensation occurring. However, we are very clear that this is not about blame, it’s about understanding the cause and working together to find a solution.


Condensation generally occurs when one or more things happen some of which may be outside of the tenants control.  In these cases, we will often fit electric fans to the kitchen and bathroom or in some cases insulate the internal walls of properties. Each case can be very different and requires different solutions.


For general advice, our new ‘Condensation, damp and mould in your home’ webpage - is now live and linked with an extra line on our main Ask for a repair to your council home webpage - We also have a leaflet that we share with tenants which gives practical advice on prevention and early treatment of condensation and mould.


We are also beginning to use technical monitoring equipment. This measures the amount of moisture in the air and the temperature in the home. This data helps us analyse the environment and more accurately pinpoint cause of the condensation.

We can also leave air purifiers and dehumidifiers in residents’ homes where necessary, pending the initial treatment.


Given the significant increase in the number of reported cases, which has impacted upon some response times, we are prioritising cases based on risk and we are working with our contractors to increase the number of calls we do a week and reduce the waiting time.


In addition to directly tackling the problem we are also increasing loft insulation where necessary and, in some cases, are installing cavity wall insulation.


We continue to take this issue very seriously and understand the concern that this is causing. Particularly the impact this may have on vulnerable people, the old and the young.   We are prioritising cases following a risk-based approach to ensure an effective and timely response to families and vulnerable residents potentially most at risk.  However, we are adding to our resources and increasing our overall capacity to respond.


Information is also being made available to help tenants who are worried about fuel bills and the general pressure on the cost of living. Information has been included on our web site, other information leaflets and we would encourage anyone worried by these issues to contact us.





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