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Mouldy nation report

As households struggle to keep their homes warm, mould and damp can become an issue for many homes across the UK. For its new Mouldy Nation Report, the energy experts at Uswitch reveal the prevalence of mould across England. By looking at complaints raised across local authorities and housing associations, we delve into people's experiences dealing with mould in the home and offer advice on how to combat it.
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A woman discovers mould next to kitchen cabinets.

New research by Uswitch has revealed that 58% of people in the UK have had mould in their homes at some point in time. For over half of those who said they have had mould at least once, paying for heating was a struggle at the time.

For those looking to save money on their heating costs, Uswitch offers over 100 free energy-saving tips for around the home. You can also compare energy deals to see whether there are any suitable fixed tariffs you might want to switch to.

Mould and damp complaints across England

Research by Uswitch has discovered the local authorities and housing associations with the most complaints to the Housing Ombudsman for mould and damp.

Local authority and housing association complaints

Complaints by type of housingTotal complaints (financial years 2018/19 - 2022/23)Estimated complaints per 10,000 units (financial years 2018/19 - 2022/23)% change 2022-23 financial year from previous financial year
Local authority 3,184 20.366.67%
Housing association 6,723 23.770.23%
Total 9,907 22.569.08%

The Housing Ombudsman received more complaints about damp and mould from housing association properties than local authority properties.

Percent of the group with damp and mould found in dwellings

YearAll dwellingsLocal authorityHousing association
20213.84.64.4
202045.44.8
20193.45.14
20183.35.14.7
20173.76.25.2
20164.263.9
20154.46.14.4
20144.354.5
20134.35.44.7
20124.36.54.4
20114.66.93.7
20106.68.96
20098.111.88.2
20087.811.98.6

According to the English Housing Survey, over the past decade, local authority housing has seen a 33% fall in damp and mould found in dwellings. At the same time, housing associations have seen a 19% rise since 2012. The proportion of all English properties with damp and mould has dropped by 17%.

Map showing the south-east of England with the ten local authorities with the most mould and damp complaints per 10,000 units.

Of the top ten local authorities that were complained about relating to mould or damp, nine were in London. Haringey received an estimated 46.6 complaints per 10,000 housing units making it the most complained about local authority to the Housing Ombudsman.

Local authorities with the biggest per cent increase in the number of complaints

RankLocal authority2021/22 complaints2022/23 complaints% change
1Kirklees420400%
2Harlow311267%
3Southend-on-Sea27250%
4North Northamptonshire27250%
5Manchester27250%
6Milton Keynes517240%
7Swindon310233%
8Solihull310233%
9Stevenage412200%
10Lewisham2675188%

(local authorities with at least 10 complaints in last 5 years)

Although the proportion of English properties with damp and mould has decreased overall, some local authorities have seen large increases in the number of complaints to the Ombudsman in the last years.

Kirklees only had four complaints in the financial year 2021/22 which rose by 400% to 20 complaints in 2022/23.

Map of the UK shows the top ten local authorities with the most social housing that received no mould and damp complaints.

The areas with the most amount of local authority-run and privately-run (including housing associations properties) have between 26,000 and 59,500 social housing units each. Surprisingly, no complaints were made to the Housing Ombudsman for these areas about mould or damp issues. 

Who is responsible for mould in a rented property?

Mould is caused by numerous factors, including everything from how the building was constructed through to how furniture is arranged within the home. This can be an issue when deciding responsibility for mould growing in a home. Tenants may find themselves in properties that have poor insulation and ventilation. Whereas landlords may have tenants that may not take basic steps to prevent mould. 

According to Shelter.org, landlords must fix problems that cause mould and damp, such as:

  • structural problems

  • faulty installation

  • leaking internal pipes

  • not enough ventilation

  • broken boilers and heating systems

  • cracked walls or rotten window frames

  • leaking roofs, missing roof tiles or faulty guttering

  • extractor fans they've installed.

Tenants should take reasonable steps to prevent mould and damp, such as: 

  • open windows regularly

  • cover pans when cooking

  • dry clothes outdoors or in a dryer

  • close internal doors when cooking or showering

  • use extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom

  • leave a gap between furniture and external walls

  • wipe condensation from window sills each morning.

How to prevent mould

For those with mouldy homes, we discovered the percentage of people doing simple things around the home that may have contributed to mould growth. Try to avoid the following to prevent mould from growing in your home. 

Table showing the percentage of people doing different things around the home that may have contributed to their mould growth.

Financial help for heating the home

Having a warm home is one of the best ways to prevent mould from growing. However, as the cost of living crisis has taken hold, 69% of people have admitted that they've put their heating on less due to cost in the past two years. Over 54% of these people believe that this is a direct cause of mould becoming more of a problem in their homes.

But for the 367,119 homes without central heating in the UK, adequately heating the home consistently enough to help prevent mould can be even trickier. Our Energy Statistics page delves deeper into the number of households without heating.

If you’re struggling with your energy bills, there is help available. Energy suppliers are required to have plans in place to help customers who need it. There are also various government-run support schemes, such as the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment.

You can also compare energy deals to see if there might be a suitable fixed tariff on offer that you could switch to.

FAQs

Methodology and sources

Mouldy nation report 2020

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