Ros Scott Bell represents Rochdale Borough Council, a 3rd party, at the Inquest into the tragic death of Awaab Ishak

“A defining moment for the Housing Sector”

Awaab Ishaak, aged 2, died as a result of environmental mould exposure in his home. He lived with his parents in social housing provided by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH). At the Inquest into Awaab’s death, Ros Scott Bell represented Rochdale Council, who had transferred its housing stock, and management of it, to RBH in 2012.

The case attracted much press attention because the Housing Ombudsman, Richard Blakeway, gave evidence during the inquest. He highlighted the fact outdated publications, such as the “Decent Homes Standard”, and the “Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)”, which are relied upon by Housing Associations and other private landlords, either did not mention, or significantly down played, the risk associated with damp and mould in the home.

Following the Inquest, HM Senior Coroner Joanne Kearsley issued s.28 reports (designed to Prevent Future Deaths) to Michael Gove, Minister for Housing and to Steve Barclay, Secretary for Health. The Coroner set out her concerns regarding the outdated publications mentioned by the Housing Ombudsman regarding; the fact that there was no evidence that the housing sector had easily accessible health information regarding the risks of damp and mould; that there appeared to be a practice amongst housing associations where if a tenant had an outstanding disrepair claim against them, that rectifications would not take place; and that it appeared that the private landlord sector does not have access to the Housing Ombudsman to enable their complaints to be investigated independently.

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