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Gove asks councils to ‘drive up’ PRS standards following death of Awaab Ishak

  • 21/11/2022
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Gove asks councils to ‘drive up’ PRS standards following death of Awaab Ishak
Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove has written to local authorities and council leaders asking how they plan to improve housing standards across all tenancies in England.

In reaction to the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who died as a result of mould in his family home, Gove wrote that this “highlighted the urgent need to ensure a decent standard of properties for tenants in all sectors”. 

Ishak lived in a property owned by housing association Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. In the wake of his death, the board of the housing association sacked its chief executive Gareth Swarbrick.

Gove has also written a separate letter to all social housing providers telling them to “raise the bar dramatically on the quality of social housing and empower tenants so that their voices are truly heard”. 


‘Prioritise the improvement of housing conditions’

Gove said it was up to the government, social housing providers, councils and local authorities to improve poor quality housing. 

To councils and local authorities, he wrote: “That is why I am writing to you to request you do everything in your power to prioritise the improvement of housing conditions for the millions of private and social tenants, in line with existing duties in the Housing Act 2004.  

“This becomes ever more urgent as we go into winter with a cost of living and energy crisis, which may exacerbate damp and mould conditions in some homes.” 

He asked local authorities to review housing conditions in their area to assess any damp or mould hazards. 

Regarding private rented properties, Gove asked for data on damp and mould hazards which had been remediated, how many times enforcement action had been taken, any civil penalty notices and any prosecutions. 

He also asked for local authorities to set out their plans to “ensure adequate enforcement capacity to drive up standards in the private rented sector”. 

Gove requested responses to be returned by the end of the month and said these will be periodically published for transparency. 

He said he had focused on damp and mould for now, but “[reserved] the right to make further directions and requests in relation to wider standards in the near future as the department deems necessary”. 

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