Awaab Ishak and Awaab’s Law

Awaab Ishak died this month from prolonged exposure to mould in his home. His coroner said this must be a defining moment for the rental…

Lucy Jefferies

Awaab Ishak died this month from prolonged exposure to mould in his home. His coroner said this must be a defining moment for the rental housing sector – his parents have stated publicly that racist stereotypes played a part in the landlord’s treatment of their complaints.

Mould and damp are not just a problem in social housing, a 2020 survey estimated that there are 445,000 homes with mould and damp in the UK with 116,000 of those being managed by Councils and Housing Associations. What hasn’t been discussed in the media reporting on this issue is the contribution passive drying makes to mould and damp in homes. Passive drying is drying clothes indoors in unventilated areas and one load of washing releases 2 litres of water into the air and that creates mould spores which travel into walls and into peoples’ lungs.

Many people have no choice but to dry clothes indoors during the winter but there are ways of drying which can help mitigate the moisture. Always dry clothes in the least used room e.g. the bedroom or bathroom – if possible do not dry clothes in living spaces such as front rooms and kitchens. Try and get hold of a dehumidifier and have this on when drying clothes indoors and/or open a window or create some ventilation in the space where you dry. Use a large dryer in a laundrette as often as possible – these can be expensive but do hold a lot of washing in one machine.

If you live in Brighton you can use our dryer for free at Harrietts Press in Brighton Open Market. We are open Tuesday-Friday and you can book a slot online. We realise that better drying techniques or free dryers are a sticking plaster for people in damp and mouldy homes and we are here to help people through this winter. We also want to support the fight to ensure landlords provide safe and dry housing to everyone and we will voice our support for the new proposed legislation ‘Awaab’s Law’ which would mean landlords have 7 days to respond to a complaint that has been backed by a medical professional. The government are also proposing scrapping the housing targets which state how many new houses local council’s have to sanction each year – a move which some think will make it even harder for young people to find stable, affordable homes. Should we build more homes or should we improve the ones we have? What would it take to do both? This feels like a moment for radical change in the way we provide and build homes.

Whatever happens next, what is clear is that the government has allowed landlords to put profits before peoples health and safety for far too long. Follow the link below to sign a petition to get Awaabs Law to the top of the political agenda