Instrumented Housing… keeping the doctors and lawyers away!
Over the last 6 months my phone has been unusually quiet, I think the PPI lawyers now have nothing to do, which got me thinking… where are they and more importantly what are they up to?!
After a quick internet search, I found that quite a few of them are now providing a ‘no win, no fee’ product for social housing tenants based on the home, Fitness for Human Habitation Act, which came into law in March 2019. Since then, tenants in properties which are deemed inadequate for living can take landlords to court if reasonable improvements are not made. Landlords may have to cover both the cost of improving the properties and paying compensation to the tenant if found liable.
The lawyers new focus is on the health risks associated with black mould spores, which multiply and grow in damp conditions. The firms advertising this service are suggesting, if they are successful, they can get me anything up to from £5-20k in compensation. However, looking into the health impact of black mould reveals more startling facts! If squeamish look away now!
Black mould in houses can lead to numerous health problems, though some people seem to experience more problems than others. Infants and young children, elderly people, people with chronic respiratory problems and those with compromised immune systems such as people with HIV, often experience more health problems as a result of black mould than others.
Research published in 2011 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that 12% of new childhood asthma in Europe was attributable to exposure to mould. Yes, you read correctly, 12%!!
Looking further into the causes of damp leading to black mould these are potentially twofold, firstly the property being in a state of disrepair, secondly the tenants causing damp through certain activities in the property such as:
- Not keeping their houses adequately heated to avoid walls getting too cold, which could also be a sign of fuel poverty!
- Drying washing and towels inside
- Not opening your bathroom window after showering or bathing
- Not using your kitchen fan on when cooking
- Not keeping large appliances and furniture an inch away from the walls to avoid tight spots that could accumulate damp and cause mould without it being noticed
Proving how and why the mould has been caused can be a challenge however legal cases have normally concluded in favour of the tenant.
So how do we stop this becoming the next PPI story?
Social landlords may want to consider the use of IoT sensor technology to monitor temperature and humidity in their tenants property, the cost of these types of sensors are now becoming reasonable and the benefits have the potential to far outweigh the costs of numerous legal challenges from ‘no win, no fee’ lawyers.
Not only this, data from the sensors will provide insight into damp issues caused by tenants such as the ones highlighted above. This could be used to educate and prevent black mould forming but also to provide evidence to support the defence of any claim where the mould has been generated by the tenants. Not only this, when the sensors are deployed they will also give an indication of fuel poverty by alerting the relevant stakeholders if the temperature in the property is below a certain level.
This is one of the many subjects for debate at WorkNation: The IoT Edition event on the 19th March at Samsung KX. We have industry experts in digital transformation to help guide you through the technological maze of IoT to help you and your business with your digital transformation strategy.