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Death of two-year-old from mould in flat sparks calls for safer social housing conditions
Coleman Legal LLP
Jan 6, 2023

The death of a two-year-old boy in 2020 from prolonged ‘chronic exposure’ to black mould in the flat he lived in with his family, has sparked concern over housing policies and the safety of those living in homes where problems with condensation and mould are prevalent. 

The young boy died eight days after his second birthday as a direct result of the black mould found in his home.

Calls have been made by doctors for greater awareness of air quality issues within homes – especially among those living in social housing as they are the most vulnerable.

It has been advised that stronger government regulations must be put in place to tackle the real risk of worsening damp and mould issues.

In this case, not only should there have been stronger Government regulations, but the social housing provider should have done everything in their power to avoid tenants from suffering illnesses arising from poor air quality in the homes.

The mould that led to the death of the two-year-old was found in the bathroom and kitchen of the flat he lived in with his parents and had first been reported to the social housing providers in 2017 by the father of the child. After he made the report, he was told to paint over the mould, which he did several times.

The legal team representing the young boy’s family argued that the social housing provider didn’t do enough to prevent the spread of mould after it was reported by the boy’s father.

Mourners say an issue of racism was at play in the negligence of the housing providers as the family were non-nationals and were less aware of their rights in the UK housing system.

It is reported that the providers of their housing took advantage of this by housing refugees or asylum seekers in homes that are unfit for human habitation.

The coroner reported that the boy “died as a result of a severe respiratory condition caused due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home environment,” and that because “action to treat and prevent the mould was not taken, the child’s respiratory condition led to respiratory arrest”

Within the UK, the death of the young boy has sparked comparison to the Grenfell Tragedy of 2017, with mourners arguing that the legislation relating to living conditions in social housing should have been tightened in the immediate aftermath of Grenfell to avoid any further tragedies.

Further concerns have arisen for renters and their living conditions, especially during the current cost of living crisis.

Health officials in the UK have stated that the risk of black mould to public health is one that is a significant threat especially in the winter months, “where people will be turning the heating down in a way that encourages more damp in our homes.”

A method for renters to report poor indoor air quality has been suggested by senior doctors so that health issues arising from those issues can be avoided.

These doctors have reported that “Cold and damp housing conditions can lead to increased risk of asthma, respiratory infections, slower cognitive development, and higher risk of disability, mental health problems in children.” And that the “Increasing evidence suggests a rising number of families are living in poor-quality accommodation, with detrimental impacts on children’s health.”