I’VE been a renter for the last 15 years. In that time, I’ve encountered mould twice.

The first was in a flat when I was a wayward teen. It had single-glazed windows and electric radiators and I was perpetually skint – not a great combination for keeping mould at bay.

The black stuff was mostly confined to one cupboard and the bathroom ceiling. I was 18 and wasn’t too bothered about it. It wasn’t nice to look at but I didn’t consider the damage that living alongside it could do (at this point in my life, strong cider was one of my main food groups, so my health wasn’t exactly high up on my list of priorities).

My second brush with mould came very recently, in the flat I’ve lived in (thankfully mould-free) for the last 10 years. I love my flat but it’s a very old property. There isn’t a room in the house that hasn’t at some point needed extensive work.

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The living room ceiling had to be completely removed and replaced after a bad leak one year. If the gutters haven’t been cleaned for a while it starts raining in my bedroom. My kitchen ceiling needed replastered after my neighbour’s dishwasher sprung a leak.

Most recently, the wall in my living room suddenly started to look a little bit wet. Not long after that, the mould started appearing. First a furry white, then a furious black.

My letting agent got somebody round within a day of me telling him about it. They stripped back the ivy on the front of the house, thinking that it might be trapping water.

When that didn’t solve the problem, they sent a couple of men round to do a more thorough investigation. It turns out there was a crack in the exterior of the building, meaning my living room was at the mercy of the dreich weather.

Last week, a man came round to strip the wall back to its bones, repair and repaint it. My letting agent is always really responsive and efficient in organising repairs. The day after my wall was fixed, somebody popped round to replace the hob, because I’d mentioned that one of the rings had stopped working.

I’m reluctant to say I’ve got a “good” landlord because that would be a bit like when people heap praise on dads for “babysitting” their own kids or changing their nappies. Over the years, I’ve spent nearly £75,000 on rent for this place.

It should be a given that the property I live in is mould-free and all the appliances work as they should. Sadly we know that is not the case for many renters.

Last week, a coroner in England ruled that two-year-old Awaab Ishak died from a respiratory condition caused by exposure to mould in his housing association home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. The photos that have been used to accompany the news are horrifying to look at.

The contrast between the images of beautiful wee Awaab – described by his parents as “full of smiles, he liked to joke and was full of life and laughter” – and the mould-infested home that brought about his death is almost too much to bear.

His parents repeatedly raised the issue with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) but their pleas for help were dismissed and ignored.

“We cannot tell you how many health professionals we’ve cried in front of and RBH staff we have pleaded to, expressing concern for the conditions ourselves and Awaab have been living in,” they said. “We shouted out as loudly as we could, but despite making all of those efforts, every night we would be coming back to the same problem.”

Imagine what that must have felt like. To be living with a baby in a house that clearly isn’t fit for human habitation and to be roundly ignored whenever you try to get the problem fixed.

To shout as loudly as you can and still not be heard.

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There were repeated failings in this case. Not only the inhumane treatment of the family by the housing association, but also the health professionals who knew about Awaab’s respiratory issues and failed to pass on that information to relevant services to see what extra support the family needed.

As if those grieving parents haven’t already been through enough, the £185,000-a-year housing association boss who runs RBH refused to stand down in the wake of the coroner’s findings.

He insisted he had the “full-backing” of the board and said they trusted him to oversee the changes that need to be made as a result of Awaab’s tragic and needless death.

Only on Saturday, after Gareth’s Swarbrick’s statement prompted a furious backlash, did the board finally step in to remove him from post with immediate effect.

In her findings, the coroner asked: “How in the UK in 2020 does a two-year-old child die as a result of exposure to mould?”

The fact that the board of RBH and Gareth Swarbrick himself thought he could continue in post after overseeing a situation that resulted in a wee boy dying unnecessarily goes some way to answering that question.