An alarming rise in complaints about mould in city council homes has been revealed.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by Norwich Conservatives showed complaints to the authority's housing department regarding damp issues soared from 21 in 2020 to 76 in the first nine months of this year. 

Norwich Evening News: City Hall's housing department has been slammed over its inactionCity Hall's housing department has been slammed over its inaction (Image: Newsquest)

This represents an increase of more than 260pc - with the authority facing 52 and 64 complaints in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

The news comes almost three years after Awaab Ishak, a two-year-old from Rochdale, died as a result of a severe respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to black mould.

"This is deeply concerning, but unfortunately is not surprising," said Alex Catt, the Green Party's shadow cabinet member for housing and safer communities at City Hall.

"The Labour administration claim that they have a process to deal with damp and mould, but what we see on the ground is an administration failing to take responsibility and kicking issues into the long grass while residents suffer.

Norwich Evening News: Cllr Alex CattCllr Alex Catt (Image: Newsquest)

"Time and again residents have come to me in tears, put on medication by their GPs, forced out of their homes and even hospitalised while the council remains tragically slow to act.

"All of this is happening while the council's housing budget is significantly underspent by up to £23m.

READ MORE: Homes approved for city site that has been unused for a decade

"While the Conservatives must take the blame for gutting council budgets, the Labour administration of Norwich have been mismanaging the budget they have."

In August, a watchdog blasted the city council for ruling the state of a flat affected by mould and damp had not gotten any worse - despite not visiting the home to check.

Norwich Evening News: Two-year-old Awaab Ishak died as a result of a severe respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to black mouldTwo-year-old Awaab Ishak died as a result of a severe respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to black mould (Image: PA)

City Hall was ordered by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to pay compensation to the woman who lived there.

Responding to the latest data, the city council admitted it was aware that some of its homes "are more susceptible to experiencing damp", but stressed it had reviewed its approach in response.

"This includes better training for staff when visiting properties following reports of damp or mould and doing a ‘mould-wash’ in all properties when first reported," a spokesman added.

"We are also investing £53m in our council properties over the next five years to help to pay for cavity, loft and wall insulation, draught-proofing and improvements to heating systems – all of which will make homes less expensive to heat and less prone to damp."

Norwich Evening News: An example of mould and damp in NorwichAn example of mould and damp in Norwich (Image: Alice Holtom)

Awaab Ishaak's death prompted the housing secretary, Michael Gove, to pledge the introduction of a law that would give more rights and protections to tenants living in mouldy homes.

But the number of social housing tenants in England complaining of damp and leaks is still on course to more than double since 2020.

READ MORE: Couple fear bitterly cold winter as council boiler woes continue

A joint statement from outgoing Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and the Tory candidate for Norwich South, David Thomas, and Norwich North, Nick Rose, read: "The city council as a landlord has let city people down time and again

"Today I hear from so many tenants trying to have damp and mould sorted out in their council home.

"[The authority] must do better for Norwich.

Norwich Evening News: Norwich North MP Chloe SmithNorwich North MP Chloe Smith (Image: PA)

"As we go into winter, tenants want to know that the state of their council house is a priority.

"Instead, they are worrying that a four-day week will mean waiting even longer for repairs and improvements.

“Nobody should have to live with damp in their home. It hits their quality of life and is a hazard to their health."

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This newspaper has been inundated with complaints from people about the presence of mould and damp in their city homes. 

Last month, Daniel Thoroughgood, from Heartsease, spoke of his five-month wait for the authority to sort out his issue - adding the stress was starting to affect his mental health. 

Norwich Evening News: The damp issues in Andy Sharpe's Norwich home pictured in late 2021The damp issues in Andy Sharpe's Norwich home pictured in late 2021 (Image: Denise Bradley)

Prior to the pay-out in August 2023, the city council was ordered to pay compensation to Andy Sharpe in December last year and Alice Holtom in January after the pair took their concerns to the Housing Ombudsman Service. 

Leela Grieveson, who lives in Antingham Road in Heartsease, was taken to hospital with pneumonia at the start of 2023. 

Despite warning council officials that she was particularly vulnerable to the toxic fungus, her doctor said a two-year exposure to mould was likely to have caused Ms Grieveson's trip to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Norwich Evening News: Leela Grieveson was taken to hospital in January 2023Leela Grieveson was taken to hospital in January 2023 (Image: Leela Grieveson)

Her daughter Imari then became unwell and Ms Grieveson's doctor penned a letter to the council urging them to re-home her.

The city council offered an apology before starting works on the property.