Rules to prevent mould deaths set to become law after Awaab Ishak tragedy

New laws are set to strengthen social housing rules following the tragic death of toddler Awaab Ishak.

The two-year-old died in December 2020 from a respiratory illness caused by prolonged exposure to mould in his home.

The legislation had already passed through the House of Commons and this week was approved by the House of Lords. It is on track to receive royal assent.

Once the legislation becomes law, social landlords will face strict time limits to inspect and repair damp and mould issues, or move tenants to safe housing.  

Other measures include conducting inspections for housing associations similar to Ofsted-style evaluations and mandating professional qualifications for social housing managers.

Earlier this week, Faisal Abdullah, the toddler’s father, submitted a petition at Number 10 Downing Street.

He was accompanied by supporters who have stood by the family throughout their efforts to establish a legacy in memory of Awaab.  

Driving up quality of social housing

Presenting the Bill to the Lords, Baroness Scott of Bybrook said: “The need to drive up the quality of social housing and rebalance the relationship between tenants and landlords was also thrown into sharp relief by the tragic death of Awaab Ishak.”

“I know that Awaab’s father is watching today and I know that I speak for all of us when I say that my thoughts remain with the Ishak family. I would like to thank the family, alongside Shelter and the Manchester Evening News, for their steadfast campaigning on Awaab’s Law.

“This law will make a real difference to people’s lives, and I hope that brings some degree of comfort to all of those who knew and who loved Awaab.”

Lord Best related the ‘tragic consequences’ if social landlords are ‘not on top of’ damp and mould.  

Baroness Pinnock said: “Awaab Ishak, whose death was caused by appallingly damp and mouldy conditions in the flat where he and his family lived.

“The response of the social housing landlord was shockingly neglectful – and as it turned out, fatally neglectful for young Awaab.”

A preventable tragedy

Following the inquest, the family of Ishak urged the housing association responsible for the house to ‘stop being racist.’

Despite repeated cries for help by the family, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) took no action to deal with the mould.

Awaab died just days after his second birthday due to a respiratory condition caused by the black mould found in the flat. He suffered a cardiac arrest brought on by respiratory failure.  

Fungus was found in his blood and lungs and inflammation suggested an allergic reaction. His cause of death was put down to “environmental mould pollution”.

His father, who arrived in the UK from Sudan in July 2015, was told to paint over the mould by property managers. The mould returned and the family repeatedly complained and asked to move home but they were not moved.  


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