A South London council is reviewing damp in homes across the borough after the death of a two-year-old in Rochdale from mould exposure.

Awaab Ishak died in 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to mould in his family’s flat.

Conservative councillor Ian George asked whether a review of Kingston Council’s “policies and housing maintenance practices” is taking place following Awaab’s death at a council meeting on December 13.

Lib Dem councillor Emily Davey, portfolio member for housing, said: “We are reviewing all our approaches to dealing with damp in the council stock and in temporary accommodation which is not owned by the council.

"Before that actual case took place we were already trialling remote temperature and humidity sensors in properties, particularly where insulation is fitted.”

She said the council is surveying the conditions of its housing stock to “put together a planned maintenance programme based on the actual states of the property so that we can actually get into properties and get the problem of damp and cold dealt with early on before it becomes a really serious mould problem”.

Councillor Davey added that the authority is building homes to cut overcrowding – including a commitment “to end overcrowding” on the Cambridge Road Estate with a full revamp of the site. 

Councillor George said “there have been previous issues in Kingston relating to this which have included a child with breathing issues”.

He asked whether the council would commit to moving residents out of homes “if the problem lasts, especially where there’s health involved and children involved”.

Councillor Davey said “the most important thing is to work with tenants and what they want”.

She said: “You can hear the priority that we’re putting on actively going out and putting in the sensors, finding out exactly what’s happening in the properties so that we can relieve the damp and work with tenants on how they want to move forward – do they want to move out while it’s fixed or do they want to stay in situ? 

"And if they do want to stay in situ, how difficult it will be to work around them. But you have to work with tenants rather than any other way.”

Housing secretary Michael Gove wrote to every English council leader and social housing provider in November saying they have to improve conditions.

He called Awaab’s death an “avoidable loss” and said councils must urgently assess damp and mould in their homes along with details of how the issues are being tackled.