Condensation dampness – regarded as major public health risk– is said to be increasing, with
experts blaming rising energy bills
An explosion in reports of damp and mould in social housing because tenants on low incomes can no longer afford to switch on their heating has emerged as the latest unwelcome sign of Britain’s cost-of-living crisis.
Social housing maintenance experts say a new condensation damp phenomenon – which was considered a marginal issue for social landlords until a few months ago – is a direct result of increasing poverty and rising energy bills.
Condensation dampness – regarded as a major public health risk because it can exacerbate respiratory diseases such as asthma – has emerged as a particular problem in northern England and rural areas where social housing tenants have been hit worst by welfare reform policies.
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Rising energy bills and increasing fuel poverty are being blamed for a surge in the number of calls to landlords across the UK to deal with mould, damp and condensation compared with previous winters.
Mould, which damages properties and tenants’ health, can increase in the winter if homes are not sufficiently heated because water vapour and condensation can build up.
Aragon Housing Association, a subsidiary of 10,000-home Grand Union Housing Group, received 76 requests from tenants for mould and damp inspections last month, a 300 per cent increase on the 19 received in November last year.
First Ark Group, the parent company of 14,000-home Knowsley Housing Trust, said tenant requests for damp inspections had doubled from 20 last November to 40 last month.
Aileen Davis, managing director of Aragon, said: ‘People cannot afford to heat their homes and are having to make the choice as to whether to eat or heat.’
A spokesperson for First Ark said this ‘could be due to the increase in costs for gas and electricity’.
In a survey of 30 landlords this month, Direct Works Forum, a consultancy which represents social landlords’ in-house maintenance teams, found 90 per cent had ‘encountered an increase in condensation problems since fuel poverty began to bite’.
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