Nearly 500 council house tenants in Edinburgh reported experiencing problems with damp and mould over a three month period last year, new figures reveal.
Around one in every 43 people living in a council-owned property flagged defects caused by excess moisture between August and November 2021 as the local authority implemented an “improved process” for managing dampness, mould and condensation in its properties.
The new approach was agreed by The City of Edinburgh Council’s Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Committee last June.
According to the council, it has been “designed around the customer journey”, with tenants given a point of contact and regular updates whilst their case is dealt with.
The revised process means that each case is reported and surveyed by a “qualified dampness surveyor to identify the issue, the cause and the steps required to remedy the issue”.
“In the short term, issues are addressed through responsive repairs and remedial works where appropriate, with action taken to remove any damp or mould from internal surfaces, and to treat or renew the affected areas and reinstate the property,” a report to councillors states.
A review of the new system’s first three months found the process “challenging to manage operationally” and said additional resources are needed to support the delivery. However, it noted “collective agreement that the principles and aims behind the process were correct”.
Reporting back to the committee, officers have revealed 495 complaints regarding dampness in Edinburgh’s council homes were received – averaging at five per day.
Most of these (230) came from people living in the north-west of the city and 81 came from the north-east, 95 from the south-east and 89 from the south-west.
The report states: “Almost half of these cases were received in the eight weeks prior to mid-November and were yet to be surveyed. A third of the total cases had completed surveys and 10 per cent of cases were closed off, with all necessary works and follow-on checks complete.”
In cases of damp and mould surveyed by the council, problems had predominantly arose due to defective or missing fans, with just under a quarter (31 households) reporting this issue.
21 of the 167 surveyed cases were due to lack of heating or ventilation whilst a further 21 were caused by a leak from above. Other sources included a roof leak (seven cases), a defective wet floor (six cases) and an external render (three cases).
The Homelessness and Fair Work Committee will meet on Thursday to agree on recommendations for the new approach moving forward.
These include the recruitment of an additional qualified dampness surveyor, greater administrative support for officers managing cases, enhanced contract management to improve performance and productivity in cases and a review of training and support requirements for staff involved in dealing with cases of dampness, condensation and mould.
by Donald Turvill Local Democracy Reporter
The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency: funded by the BBC, provided by the local news sector, and used by qualifying partners. Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.