Council to investigate mould in social homes

Fiona Thomson, Executive Member for Housing, at a Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council meeting.

Fiona Thomson, Executive Member for Housing, said a review into the issues with mould was under way. - Credit: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

The scale of mould in council housing stock will be investigated after councillors said they were receiving a rise in complaints from residents.

At a meeting of full Council on November 18, WHBC also agreed to review a policy of not replacing windows that are not deemed a priority to be looked through, even when the seals have failed.

Under the current policy, tenants have to foot the bill to replace windows that are not classed as a priority, despite concerns that the fault could lead to mould.

Labour group leader Councillor Kieran Thorpe (Hatfield South West) proposed a motion to ask the council to review the ‘Window Repairs and Replacement’ policy, and to recognise the problems with mould reported across the borough.

In bringing the motion forward, Cllr Thorpe told councillors he “had never known it to be an issue so frequently raised” by residents.

The Conservative-led council said that the issue of mould in council properties is in the process of being reviewed, and agreed to extend that to looking into the specific policy on replacing windows.

Cllr Thorpe said: “It is perhaps arguable the link between mould and windows that have failed, but regardless I just cannot see the logic in saying a bedroom window doesn’t need to be looked out of by an adult or even a child.

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“Bedrooms are not just bedrooms now, for many they serve other purposes too, home offices or even classrooms.

“But even if they don’t, it seems like a needlessly penny-pinching and indeed false economy situation to tell residents that if they want blackened, completely unviewable windows replaced they’ll have to pay for it themselves because it isn’t a priority. 

“Mould or not, these failed windows can only harm the energy efficiency of these homes, and the council’s policy of being content to see them remain is at odds with the example we should be setting of how tenants should look after their properties – the most important asset this council has.”

Cllr Thorpe’s motion was amended by Councillor Fiona Thomson (Conservative, Handside), Executive Member for Housing, to clarify that the issue would be dealt with by the council’s Housing Maintenance Task and Finish Group.

Cllr Thomson said the first meeting of the group is scheduled for next week. Findings from task and finish groups are usually expected within three months.

Cllr Thomson said: “As the housing portfolio holder, I recognise how hard our housing teams work on behalf of our tenants, and I welcome the opportunity for the task and finish group to review this policy and to develop proposals for consideration.”

The motion was passed with unanimous support from members.