‘Tens of thousands’ of rented homes unsafe, Michael Gove admits

Damp on the wall near an electrical socket

Tens of thousands of properties across the country are unsafe because they “have not been looked after properly”, Michael Gove has admitted.

The levelling up secretary said a significant number of homes were in urgent need of repair or maintenance. His comments come days after a coroner ruled that the death of toddler Awaab Ishak was caused by exposure to mould at home.

Two-year-old Awaab died in December 2020 after developing a respiratory condition brought on by the state of the social housing he was living in.

The government has since stripped the association involved, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), of £1m in expected funding.

Gove said: “We are not giving money to organisations that are operating incompetently.”

He appeared on BBC Breakfast yesterday, where he was asked if he was embarrassed by the poor state of many homes nationwide. He responded by saying that it angered him that people were living in poor conditions.

“We need to tackle this problem nationwide,” he said. “My aim is to improve the conditions in which people live. I fear it’s the case that there are tens of thousands of properties that are not in the state that they should be,” he said.

Asked if tens of thousands was correct, he said: “Yes, at least.”

“We know there are a significant number of properties, some of which were built in the 60s and 70s and are in poor conditions, but some of which have been poorly maintained that simply need to be properly repaired and properly maintained.”

Gove has written to six housing providers that have had recent findings of severe maladministration made against them by England’s housing ombudsman for varying problems related to cold, damp, mould, leaks and antisocial behaviour.


Toddler’s death from mould described as a ‘defining moment’ for housing



Email the story to a friend


  1. letstalk

    Given this was social housing it suggests (alongside most council tenants if comments on social media are to be believed) that government perhaps needs to get their own house in order before they start to questions millions of private landlords who do care about the housing they provide and work really hard to ensure it’s safe, sanitary and well maintained!

  2. Will2

    No one has mentioned what the coroner’s conclusion was on cause of the black mould. I am sure it would have been part and parcel of the coroner’s enquirey.  Was it deemed a building defect?, was it determined to be a lifestyle issue?, was it due to inadequate heating and ventilation due to the tenants income or benefits? All these points are highly relative. Of course the case is an absolute tragedy and everyone is shocked.  It is better these matters are properly understood so it can never happen again. But yet again the media and politicians all seem to be using this tragic case to demonise landlords without knowing the full facts of the case. Good press for the media and a politician jumping to conclusions.  I am not defending anyone but as it is now in the media we all need to know the unbiased truth.   I noted Dr Zand on the TV the other day was explaining what causes mould and was not being judgemental and even hit man Matt Alwright was not solely blaming landlords as he nornally does; but explaining that mould problems can be more complex. Clearly whatever the cause the landlords should have provided written guidance if a occupier problem or taken action if a building defect. This is a tragedy which was probably preventable and I can’t imagine the pain and suffering the little lad’s parents are going through. I am sure everyone’s thoughts are with the family.

  3. AcornsRNuts

    According to Labour’s mouthpiece, Lisa Nandy “there is no excuse for not showing the same regard for millions of private rented tenants who live in squalid, unsafe conditions and are evicted if they dare to complain”.  Millions, Lisa, really?  Time to meet Dolores Umbridge and learn not to tell lies.


You must be logged in to report this comment!

Comments are closed.

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.