Mould in Rochdale flat caused boy’s death Coroner rules.
Today we were saddened to learn about the horrific circumstances surrounding the death of a two year old boy, Awaab Ishak from Rochdale.
Awaab died as a result of a severe respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to mould in his home.
We learn how Awaab’s parents repeatedly raised the issue of disrepair with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) but no action was taken. They described how trapped and worthless they felt with how Rochdale Boroughwide Housing was refusing to address the problem of mould, at one point telling the parents to simply paint over it.
RBH workers had assumed the family were taking on ‘ritual bathing’ involving a ‘bucket’ which was leading to excess water on the bathroom floor without ever asking the family directly about this. Mr Abdullah informed the hearing that his family showered, and such ‘rituals’ were not in his family’s ‘culture’.
Awaab Ishak’s father, Faisal Abdullah said “We felt like we weren’t getting anywhere, and we weren’t. Often our calls weren’t even answered. We don’t feel RBH actually cared about us. Nothing was changing. Awaab’s coughing fits would sometimes last two to three days. There were days we wouldn’t be able to take Awaab out of the house because of how bad his coughing was – but of course by him staying in the house, this made his coughing worse. We were absolutely trapped”.
Following six days of evidence at Rochdale Coroners Court the Coroner, Joanne Kearsley ruled that the 2 year old died after prolonged exposure to mould at their home. Delivering a narrative conclusion at Rochdale Coroner’s Court, the Manchester North senior coroner said ventilation in the one-bedroom flat was not effective. “This was a direct contributing factor in the development of the mould,” Ms Kearsley said.
She also criticised the landlord’s approach of blaming the family for the problem for the Housing Disrepair – insisting there was ‘no evidence that the ways of living by the family were in any way excessive’.
We have dealt with many hundreds of such Housing Disrepair claims and often find a social housing landlords take reactive steps, for whatever reason. It is not always about compensation but rather getting the repairs done to a satisfactory level so that the property is not only made fit for human habitation but that tenants can live in a safe and healthy environment and enjoy the use of their property once again.
Telling a tenant to “paint over” mould is entirely inadequate. It does not address the root cause of the problem and simply hides the issue for it to only inevitably come back.
The Housing Ombudsman in its report ‘Spotlight on damp and mould – It’s not lifestyle’, examined 410 complaints and investigated about 142 landlords over a two-year period and found maladministration in 56%, rising to 64% for complaint handling alone. This failure rate was often the result of inaction, excessive delays or poor communication.
The Ombudsman said that “landlords should avoid inferring blame on residents due to ‘lifestyle’, when it is often not solely their issue, and take responsibility for resolving problems”.
Housing Disrepair undoubtedly not only affects the physical health of the tenants but also affects their mental health and wellbeing, especially where they feel they are being ignored. No family should have to live like this and we have raised the issue of what we consider a housing crisis time and time again.
We know how vulnerable tenants living with housing disrepair can be and that’s why we offer a No Win No Fee service to not only get your property repaired but also seek damages for the distress and inconvenience of having to live in a manner which has far reaching consequences. We have helped many people in similar circumstances to the Abdullah family and can legally make the landlord carry out the repairs and even in extreme circumstances arrange for the tenants to move into suitable alternative accommodation. If your landlord is failing to carry out repairs and refuses to acknowledge your concerns then get in touch.
We can help. We will help.
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Call us on 01204 589009