Poor Housing Costs The NHS £1.4 Billion A Year

A new report produced by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) highlights the vast sum of money that is spent treating health problems caused by living in substandard homes.

Researchers have analysed government data on the number and types of hazards- such as excessive cold, damp and falling down the stairs- found in homes in England to calculate how much they cost the NHS.

The highest cost to the NHS -around £857 million- is spent on treating residents made ill by excessively cold homes.

An estimated £38 million is spent on treating the impact of damp, while £374 million is spent on injuries from falls caused by unsafe conditions.

The longer-term impact of low-quality housing, including people left unable to work or needing care, costs society £18.5 billion pounds every year, according to the BRE report.

The top 5 household hazards are:

  • Excessive cold (£857m per year)

  • All falls (£753m per year)

  • Dampness (£38m per year)

  • Fire (18m per year)

  • Hot surfaces (£17m per year)

Tikysha Thomas understands full well what it feels like to live in a hazardous home: her walls are thick with black and green mould and her floors are constantly sopping wet from a leak in the bathroom.

Her and daughter, Kacie, have lived in their flat owned by Hackney Council,in east London, since 2015 and have been living with severe disrepair for the last two and a half years.Previously Tikysha was fit and healthy, but since the mould in her home started to worsen she began experiencing severe shortness of breath and wheezing.

“The moment I step in my chest feels tight. I can feel all the moisture in the air,” she said.

“It is uncomfortable. As my daughter is walking up the stairs I am trying to not let her touch the sides so the mould and the damage doesn’t get on her hands.”

She was subsequently diagnosed with asthma and is forced to use her inhaler up to ten times in the night.

She is particularly worried as her daughter has started coughing too, making Tikysha fearful she also has developed the condition.



Hackney Man’s Council Flat Kitchen Flooded With ‘3 Inches Of Dirty Water’ Causing ‘Risk Of Electrocution’

A vulnerable tenant from Hackney whose house has been declared ‘a risk to his life’ has shared photos showing the shocking extent of the disrepair in his home.

A 55-year-old man,  sought legal advice after complaining for two years about the state of his property. The resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, is at potential risk of electrocution, according to experts – as damp and water has spread all through his North London council house.

The tenant, who has lived in the property since May 2008, says he has been complaining to Hackney Council since 2019 with the help of his carer, both in person and on the telephone, reporting the main issues of no heating or hot water and a leak in his kitchen.

The house is said to be so uninhabitable it has three inches of dirty water on the kitchen floor which has been caused by a leak, originating from the kitchen sink that is coming away from the wall. The sink is also blocked and there is a pipe leaking on the floor.


New Ombudsman Tables Reveal Worst-Performing Landlords On Damp And Mould

Between April 2019 and March 2021 the watchdog examined 410 complaints related to damp and mould, investigated 142 landlords and made maladministration findings in 56% of cases. This rose to 64% for complaint-handling.

The first table, ordered by maladministration findings per 10,000 homes so that the size of the organisation is taken into account, lists the highest number of damp and mould cases per social landlord.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council topped the list at 10.8 findings per 10,000 homes, followed by A2Dominion Housing Group at a rate of 3, Camden Council at 2.5, and Lambeth Council at 2.

Overall, the top 10 landlords paid out more than £57,000 in compensation, with Camden paying out the most at £11,692.

The ombudsman also provided a table showing how smaller landlords – those with between 1,000 and 10,000 homes – performed.

The top three worst performing were Harrow Council, with a maladministration finding rate of 5 per 10,000 homes, followed by Newlon Housing Trust at 4.1 and Waltham Forest Council at 1.

In total, the ombudsman found maladministration issues related to damp and mould in 40% of the 410 cases it looked into, making 373 findings and issuing 286 orders. Landlords were ordered to pay a total of £87,553 in compensation across 177 cases.


Poor Housing Harms Health Of 20% Renters In England

Poor housing is harming the health of one in five renters in England, with mould, damp and cold the main triggers of sickness, a major survey by the housing charity Shelter has revealed.

Approximately 1.9m households could be suffering physical and mental problems as a result of poor housing conditions as well as uncertainty caused by struggles to pay the rent and repeated evictions, polling of over 3,000 private renters suggests. A quarter of all renters said they were affected by damp and mould and by being unable to heat their homes. They were three times more likely to say housing was harming their health than those without the problems. The study also detailed how almost one in four renters said their housing situation had left them feeling “stressed and anxious” since the start of the pandemic.

The findings came as councils warned that waiting lists for affordable housing are set to double next year to as many as 2.1m households. One in 10 of those in the queue have already been waiting for over five years. The Covid pandemic has dented housebuilding with at least 100,000 fewer homes built by 2023, according to the Local Government Association which anticipates rising demand in the coming months as the cost of living crisis helps drive up rent arrears and evictions.

 “The cost of poor housing is spilling out into overwhelmed GP surgeries, mental health services, and hours lost from work,” said Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate. “The new housing secretary must get a grip on the housing crisis and tackle a major cause of ill health. Listening to the calls flooding into our helpline there is no doubt that health and housing go hand in hand. Yet, millions of renters are living in homes that make them sick because they are mouldy, cold, unaffordable and grossly insecure.”


Charles Dickens House: ‘It’s Like Living In Victorian-Era Housing’

Some residents of Charles Dickens House have compared living in the east London social housing block to the sort of life described in some of the author’s Victorian-era novels.

Many have complained about problems such as mould, leaks and vermin for over a decade, with a number saying the issues were affecting their health.

According to housing charity Shelter, one in five renters across England is harmed by the state of their home.

The housing authority said it was “working hard” to resolve the problems at the block.


Care Worker Forced To Leave Home Because Of Rats, Damp And Mould

A tenant who has been living in hotels for three months while her housing association decanters her property might not be rehoused until Christmas.

Clarion Housing moved care worker, Louise Plunkett, into a hotel on July 7 after she was hospitalised with breathing problems while living among damp, mould, and vermin that was so bad, she had to sleep on her sofa for nine months. The 34-year-old Mitcham resident had been complaining to Clarion for almost a decade, but was getting nowhere with the housing association – which manages 125,000 properties across the UK and is Europe’s largest housing association.

Louise’s property is plagued with mice and rats, both dead and alive, that chew through her clothes, destroy her furniture and shred important documents. She had no choice but to move into her living room and salvage the little clothes she could and live out of a bin bag.

Clarion previously told MyLondon they had been in weekly communication with Louise since February 2021, and had apologised to her and paid compensation for a delay of services in the past. However, Louise denies that she ever received an apology and was paid just £25, which she believes was compensation from Clarion.

Louise says she is one of many Clarion residents who are being moved into hotels while the housing association decanters or completes repairs in properties. She told MyLondon: “This is not an isolating incident, this is taking place with every other resident that Clarion is taking control over – why are they failing? “You don’t get to sit at the table saying you are helping me yet I’ve got neighbours sitting in their property with damp and mould, I’m so angry about this. “The humiliation myself and other Clarion residents are being put through is disgusting, we can’t keep living like this. It’s inhumane.”

Louise still has to pay £575 rent per month despite not living there because of health risks. Every time Louise returns to her Mitcham property to clear out her possessions, she has terrifying dreams of the rats and mould she has lived among. She was transferred from a Mitcham hotel to another in Wimbledon after a series of unsafe incidents involving outsiders trying to get into her and other people’s rooms.


Swansea Mum Struggling To Breathe In Mouldy Council Flat

A MUM-of-seven claims she is struggling to breathe in her mouldy council flat where damp has forced her to chuck Fout “£1,000 worth of ruined clothes and shoes”.

June Williams, 64, has demanded compensation from Swansea Council, as she’s fed up with “being fobbed off” and constantly having to wipe down walls with bleach.

She said: “There has been a mould issue ever since I first moved in. The kids were always ill when they were living with me. I have complained, and asked people to come out, but inspectors say it is just condensation, and I believed them, but I always thought something wasn’t right – they were fobbing me off. I’ve got damp issues in my bedroom on both walls, I wipe it down with bleach, but it comes back.”

The gran said that when she complained to the council about the mould, inspectors who visited told her that it was her fault for not opening windows, rather than being a damp issue. However she’s adamant the property is well-ventilated, but badly built. Several years ago the council did concede there was “rising damp in the living room, and they treated it.”


Huddersfield Mum Living In A Damp And Mouldy Ant-Infested Council House

Unresolved damp and mould problems, insects, and a recent flood have made the house an unacceptable place to live and left her struggling with her mental health.

Claire, a mental health services volunteer, says she first reported the mould and damp in February this year. She said the damp team from Kirklees Housing came out to assess it, but that nothing has happened to fix the issues.

Claire told YorkshireLive: “I’ve got ants in my kitchen and living room. In my bedroom, because it got absolutely soaked from the flood – it just stinks of mould. “It’s a horrible damp smell. I’m just being passed back and forth and nothing’s really getting sorted – the situation is just getting worse. It’s just not nice to live in and it’s not nice when you have a daughter who suffers from asthma.”

Early in August, Claire’s problems were complicated when a burst pipe from her boiler flooded her house. “After it happened, I was told I had to stay in the property because they had nowhere else to put me and my two year old. It absolutely flooded my whole bedroom, flooring, clothes got ruined – it came through the ceiling of the living room, my sofa was soaked, my flooring was absolutely soaking,” she said. When the council had left that day after everything had flooded, they just kind of left me to it. I had to sort out emergency accommodation because the council wouldn’t help me, my housing officer wouldn’t help me. All they did was leave me a bag of rags to clean up with – that’s all the help I was given.”

Claire was given the property two years ago, and say she’s had issues with it from the beginning.


Lambeth Mum Forced To Wait Months For Repairs To ‘Unsafe’ Council Home

Lambeth council estimated the repairs would take ‘four weeks’ but the mum-of-two has been waiting months.

Cliona Addison, 33, was living in a home with leaks, damp walls and broken tiles for almost a year. Before Lambeth council moved her and her two children into temporary accommodation in June. The tenant claims the council have not made contact with her since the family moved into the accommodation and does not know when she is expected to return home.

Earlier this year, Lambeth council told My London that repairs to Cliona’s home will begin “once the home is empty” and estimated it would take “four weeks to complete, subject to drying out.” Now, three months on, Cliona says that she is still waiting for repairs to be completed in her home and is still living in temporary accommodation.

Cliona told My London: “They haven’t assessed it. I don’t personally feel like they can move me back there and, if they do, it’s going to take a long time for it to get better. “No one has gone to assess the damage, only random plumbers and electricians who call [me] up. I don’t know who I’m supposed to turn to now?”

Cliona visited her Lambeth home two weeks ago and had to kick the door down as it was swollen due to the leaks. She said: “The house is so messed up and the door was so swollen. I had to kick the door to get it open, the door can’t close now. We couldn’t shut the door, I had to leave it unlocked.” The mum of two described feeling “insecure’’ as a result of living in her temporary accommodation. “I’ve not had a housing officer or a liaison call me… Nobody has contacted me whatsoever, they’ve just left me in temporary accommodation,” she claimed. “I’m desperate because I don’t want to wait until Winter. It’s going to get cold and wet and I’m worried about transferring all my stuff in the vans.”

Cliona moved into the Lambeth property as a council tenant in July 2019 and dealt with a leak just four months later. She said: “The bathroom light has plastic casing [and] was full of water. We realised when the light was flicking on and off. “The [resident living] underneath me said this has been ongoing before I moved in.”

As a result of the issues at her home, Cliona said she experienced a “breakdown” whilst her son suffered with throat issues “due to living in a wet, mouldy, damp flat for more than 18 months.” The family are still waiting for those repairs to be made to their home in Lambeth, three months after moving into their temporary accommodation.



A Story Of Shocking Conditions And Tenants Despair At A Lack Of Action

For the past six months, ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt has been travelling the country uncovering the shocking conditions being endured by some people and families living in social housing – homes owned and run by local councils and housing associations.

In a documentary – Surviving Squalor: Britain’s Housing Shame – to be broadcast on ITV on Sunday at 10.15pm, he hears first-hand from residents being forced to live for months or even years in unsafe and uninhabitable properties – some are overrun by damp and mould, others have fallen apart in front of tenants’ eyes. The documentary asks why some of the most vulnerable in society are being failed by a housing system that consistently ignores their concerns, fails to fix their problems, and offers them nowhere else to go.

On Christmas Day 2020, Fransoy Hewitt woke to prepare lunch for her two young boys. Despite everything, she was determined to make it a special day. Coronavirus had all but cancelled Christmas for the south of England, but the pandemic was the least of Fransoy’s concerns. A month earlier, a small but persistent leak in her living room, which she had been reporting to her landlord Croydon Council for over a year, suddenly began to spread, taking on a new ferocity.

No longer confined to a small patch of her one bedroom flat, water began leaking from the kitchen ceiling, into the bathroom, the hallway and across the living room. Water cascaded through light fittings, soaking the floors and destroying the family’s possessions. Fransoy’s living room was so sodden and cold, within days it was no longer habitable. She placed buckets, and the plastic bath she once used to bathe her baby boys, under the drips, emptying them every few hours.

The kitchen became plagued with thick mould. Black, furry spores saturating the walls and ceilings, growing on plugs and in cupboards and spreading onto their food. No matter how much Fransoy wiped it away, it soon came back. She continued to complain repeatedly to Croydon Council throughout November and December. Maintenance workers would sometimes be sent out. They turned off the electricity to their fridge, and the lights in their bathroom and hallway, to prevent electrocution, but they never fixed the leak.

They would have seen the water dripping into buckets around the flat, and walked on the sodden floors, their shoes squelching. They would have seen the mould-infested kitchen and smelt the unbearable stench of damp that hits you the moment you walk through the door of the flat. And yet the leak went unfixed, for months. So on Christmas Day 2020, Fransoy woke to make lunch for her two sons in this one bedroom council flat. Water dripping around her, she prepared their dinners and plated up, as the boys sat down at a small wooden table in the living room, the steadily-filling baby bath at their feet.

As she handed them their food, water began dripping onto the table. Determined that they should eat Christmas dinner together as a family, and with nowhere else to sit, Fransoy grabbed an umbrella. She held the umbrella above her sons heads, while they ate their Christmas dinners. Fransoy told me this story when I first met her 10 weeks later, in March 2021. I saw for myself what those maintenance workers would had seen. I saw the horrific conditions that Fransoy had reported time and time and time again to Croydon Council.

She showed me the logbook of all the calls she had made and the emails she had sent to the complaints department. Such was Fransoy’s lack of trust in the council, she meticulously noted the dates and times of every phone call, should they ever question her.  Her desperation was palpable. She had turned to the media in a last-ditch effort to get her and her sons out of a flat she genuinely feared would kill them.