Payouts ordered by watchdog for Lewisham’s failure to deal with mould in homes

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

A family has won a £20,000 payout from Lewisham council after it failed to get to grips with a decade-long damp problem that caused mould to grow on a baby’s cot.

The authority was still insisting a yearly mould wash was enough to deal with the problem eight years after the unnamed resident first reported a leak, a Housing Ombudsman report has revealed.

The living room and bathroom walls of the property were covered in mould and mould was even found on a mattress that the family’s children slept on.

A letter from the children’s school showed their attendance plummeted from above 90 per cent to 70 per cent in a year due to absences linked to coughs, colds and infections.

The report added that the council did not demonstrate how it supported the family while they were dealing with the recurring damp and mould. It was also criticised for failing to consider the family’s health and well-being.

The case is one of three involving the council where the Housing Ombudsman found severe failings. He ordered the council to pay out more than £40,000 in total to the affected residents.

One tenant, who suffered from asthma, was left with severe mould in their home after the council dragged its feet dealing with a window repair for six years. Meanwhile, the unnamed tenant had to live with windows held together by tape.

Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway said: “The financial awards at this level are unusual, reflecting the impact on the residents and the prolonged period of service failure they experienced.”

A Lewisham council spokeswoman said: “We have undertaken a comprehensive review of our approach to complaints handling. We will publish the outcome and share action plans with residents.

“In progress is a survey of all our housing stock to build a more accurate picture of their condition to direct investment where it is most needed.”

“Alongside this, we are making major investments to modernise our systems for managing and storing information and deliver better outcomes for residents.”

Pictured top: Lewisham council’s offices in Catford (Picture: Google Street View)

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