MOULD & CONDENSATION IN DENBIGHSHIRE'S COUNCIL HOUSING STOCK
To consider a report (copy attached) by the Head of Communities & Customers and Lead Officer - Community Housing which outlines the feedback provided to Welsh Government on how the authority manages and prevents mould and condensation in Council Housing stock and seeks the Committee’s views on the systems and processes in place to address such issues.
10.50 – 11.30 a.m.
The Lead Member for Housing and Communities, Councillor Rhys Thomas introduced the report to the Committee (previously circulated). He introduced the report author Geoff Davies, Lead Officer: Community Housing and Liz Grieve, Head of Communities and Customers Services to respond to the Committee’s questions and comments.
The report was in response to Welsh Government’s request for assurance on how landlords were responding following the tragic death that had occurred in Rochdale 2022. Welsh Government asked for feedback from organisations on how they would scrutinise the concern within their own governance structures. The Lead Member stressed the importance of the Housing and Property Services being fully scrutinised on this issue, to ensure support was provided to households in Council homes to prevent and tackle mould and condensation.
The Lead Officer: Community Housing confirmed included in the pack was the documentation that had been submitted to Welsh Government earlier in the year. He informed members the data included in the papers was up to date. In his opinion the report demonstrated well the work in response to mould and condensation in Denbighshire Council’s housing stock. It was proposed a survey would be conducted for tenants who reported condensation in order to receive feedback on the support they received. It was stressed that not all mould and condensation in properties was due to a building defect it could be a number of reasons. Members heard that black mould was often caused from breath and air that collecting on house walls and wall paper. He also stressed drying clothes on radiators in rooms was bad for health. Council officers were quick to respond to reports of mould and condensation to ascertain any issues or risks. Over recent years a large amount of information had been made available to residents to provide guidance and information to reduce the risk of mould. The recent leaflet that had been issued was attached to the papers as appendix 4.
He informed members once a report of mould had been received, a property inspector would attend the property to inspect the property to determine if there were any issues with the building. Advanced equipment had been acquired for inspections to aid the officers in determining a cause of the mould or condensation.
Members heard the importance of removing any black mould found straight away as the risk to the health and safety of tenants was paramount for the authority.
Targeted work on properties with the lowest energy ratings had taken place, in theory they were the properties most liable to develop condensation. Officers had contacted nearly 200 of these properties to provide information and support. Officers had been in touch with tenants that had not taken advantage of the energy help funds. Members also heard that officers refused to disconnect the gas supply to properties but offered extra support and help.
It was noted that of the 11,000 repair reports received during 2022 only 168 had been in relation to mould and condensation this equated to 1.5% of all repair requests and 5% within the whole housing stock in Denbighshire. There was no pattern of type of dwelling that was more susceptible to mould or condensation problems. Officers made reference to the increase in reporting of concerns, it was stressed this was due to the increase in resources and an improvement in reporting. Hard to heat properties had been identified, these properties had received some extra resources and modifications to systems to aid heating the dwelling.
Officers thanked the Committee for the opportunity to scrutinise this service and demonstrate the work of the team in this area.
Members were made aware that when concerns were received regarding the state of the property all necessary work was conducted to ensure that property was safe and repaired to a standard.
The Chair thanked the officers and Lead Member for the detailed introduction to the report. During the discussion the following points were debated in greater detail:
· The checklist, attached at Appendix 3, provided officers with details of the responsibilities of the Authority as the landlord to advice and support tenants where possible. There was responsibility on both the landlord and the tenants to ensure the property was properly maintained and managed.
· Annual visits to properties took place. These annual visits were used to provide guidance and prevent potential issues such as mould and condensation occurring. One challenge officers faced was not gaining permission to visit properties. The only time officers could enforce a visit was to conduct a gas inspection.
· An asset management plan provided information on the condition of the Council’s housing stock. A full property condition survey was conducted of the outside of each property. Where it was difficult to gain permission to enter to conduct internal condition surveys these were undertaken at the same time as gas inspections.
· Officers were reliant on tenants reporting any concerns to officers. Good property management was important.
· Officers wanted to ensure there was a clear pathway for tenants to contact officers with any concerns. It was hoped this would embed a cooperative, collaborative relationship with tenants. Denbighshire had responsibility to ensure properties were maintained to a good standard. The Head of Communications and Customers Service stressed her concern with parties offering a no win no fee operation. She encouraged residents to communicate with officers and asked Committee members to reiterate to tenants the Council’s complaints procedure and Public Ombudsman than a third party operative.
· It was stressed properties were residents’ homes. Officers did not want to impose on individuals but wanted them to welcome officers support and help where needed. Members heard, notice was provided to tenants before attending properties.
· It was intended going forward to have a more holistic approach when visiting properties to assess more than one aspect of its maintenance and make ever visit count.
Members expressed their thanks to the officers and praised the Head of Service being proactive in bringing the topic forward for debate.
Following detailed discussion, the Committee:
(i) to receive and endorse the information provided;
(ii) subject to the above comments, to confirm that it was satisfied that the Council’s systems and processes were robust and appropriate to ensure that damp and mould issues are dealt with promptly and effectively; and
(iii) requested that an Information Report be circulated to Committee members in 12 months’ time detailing the effectiveness of the processes established to deal with damp and mould issues. The report should also focus on the effectiveness of wider Council Housing stock management practices, including responding to service requests, complaints and the provision of advice to all tenants, including those who are harder to engage with or reach.
- Mould & Condensation in Denbighshire's Council Housing Stock Report 160323, item 6. PDF 218 KB
- Mould & Condensation in Denbighshire's Council Housing Stock Report 160323 - App 1, item 6. PDF 415 KB
- Mould & Condensation in Denbighshire's Council Housing Stock Report 160323 - App 2, item 6. PDF 230 KB
- Mould & Condensation in Denbighshire's Council Housing Stock Report 160323 - App 3, item 6. PDF 322 KB
- Mould & Condensation in Denbighshire's Council Housing Stock Report 160323 - App 4, item 6. PDF 3 MB