Too many residents in London struggle with cold, damp and mouldy homes. Low quality housing, overcrowding and fuel poverty along with energy saving retrofit measures without proper ventilation only make the problem worse.
People living in these conditions are often vulnerable and frequently face challenges with their physical and mental health.
A new report, ‘Keeping Out The Chill: Fixing London’s Cold, Damp and Mouldy Homes’, published today by the London Assembly Environment Committee, says not all the solutions need be expensive.
Tailored energy advice can ease some of the worst impacts as long as it is offered alongside the latest in demand-responsive ventilation and recognises the particular stresses in overcrowded homes.
Among the recommendations in ‘Keeping Out The Chill’:
* The Mayor should specify that new housing, especially social and affordable rent properties, has ventilation designed to cope if the home were to become overcrowded.
* The Mayor’s retrofit programmes, Warmer Homes and RE:NEW, should ensure ventilation installed through the programmes is sufficient to cope with potential overcrowding.
* The Mayor, the Government and other funders or sponsors should ensure future retrofit programmes are multi-measure with sufficient focus on ventilation. Programmes should account for occupancy levels and the need for heat, ventilation and energy advice as well as insulation, to prevent condensation.
* Any evaluation of the warmer homes private rented sector pilot should assess how well the pilot has reached vulnerable people, especially children, older people, disabled people and those in overcrowded homes.
Caroline Russell AM, Chair of the Environment Committee, said: “Cold, damp and mouldy homes cause untold misery to many Londoners. Too often people feel they are in a losing battle to keep their homes warm and free of condensation and mould, spending a fortune without feeling any lasting benefits. Single-solution measures can be counter-productive. It is worrying that retrofitting to improve energy efficiency can make a damp problem worse if ventilation is not included.
“We’ve seen simple strategies which combine effective energy advice with the latest direct ventilation technology which could be rolled out relatively affordably. People deserve to live in warm, dry homes and it’s important that people living in fuel poverty and in overcrowded homes get help to reduce condensation and mould. Our report sets out a series of measures that would bring more Londoners’ homes up to scratch.”