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Look out for the new WHQ

The new issue of WHQ out this week takes repairs and maintenance as its main theme and has damp and mould as its sad but inevitable starting point. The tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak and the inquest verdict in November shocked the country. ‘How could this happen?’ asked the coroner, after the little boy died of a respiratory condition linked to exposure to mould in his family’s housing association flat in Rochdale. She said it should be ‘a defining moment’ for the housing sector.

Damp and mould have since become a major issue for tenants and landords alike but, as Duncan Forbes points out in our cover story, there is tragically nothing new about the finding that mould causes ill-health. It’s been known for decades and he began his housing solicitor in the 1980s prosecuting social landlords under legislation from the 1930s for providing homes ‘prejudicial to health’ because of condensation and mould growth. There is sadly nothing new either about tenants being told ‘it’s not damp, it’s condensation’ or that their lifestyle is to blame rather than the design of their home.

Duncan argues that tackling damp, condensation and mould is a huge challenge that could be as big, if not bigger than the challenge of fire safety. He considers some of the major reasons why and what has to change to make things better and also raises a cautionary note about retrofit.

Managing repairs and maintenance is of course a major issue in itself. Sharon Crockett reflects on the challenges involved after moving into assets last year while, in her latest finance update, Sarah Prescott looks at financial issues to consider.

Damp and mould is of course one of the key concerns expressed by tenants in TPAS Cymru’s Second Annual All Wales Survey. David Wilton explains how it is inter-linked with energy efficiency and a well-maintained home and outlines the major issues raised by social and private tenants.

The condition of existing homes, this time in the private sector, also takes centre stage in another part of the magazine. Mark Thomas of Welsh Cladiators says leaseholders have been left frustrated by slow progress on fixing the building safety crisis in Wales and calls for a legal change to make it easier to hold developers to account. We also feature the latest progress update from Welsh Government this week.

As decarbonisation work continues, we hear from Owain Israel on Linc Cymru’s project to retrofit four pre-1919 terraced homes in Newport with different technologies.

Elsewhere in the magazine we feature the housing situation facing refugees and asylum seekers. Romy Wood reflects on the Homes for Ukraine scheme and its wider impact on hosting projects. Gareth Lynn Montes says the UK system for accommodating asylum seekers is a recipe for disaster. And Nick Taylor-Williams reports on the impact of the Ukraine war on Welsh local authorities.

We also hear from Sophie Howe on the housing legacy we need for future generations and from Suzanne Fitzpatrick on the work of the Expert Review Panel looking at Welsh homelessness legislation.

With all that plus our regular features and updates, including full coverage of the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget, we hope there will be something for everyone in this issue of WHQ. Articles will be going online this week.

Everyone can access a limited selection of free articles but subscribers get full access to Online and PDF editions of the magazine plus all individual articles as web pages and our archive of back issues. To find out more about subscribing go here.

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