BARNSLEY Council leader Sir Steve Houghton has encouraged private renters to report any damp and mould issues in their property to the authority ‘without fear’.

During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Coun Houghton reassured renters who were afraid to speak out about damp and mould issues that the council’s officers can tackle landlords on their behalf.

He said: “What I would do is encourage private tenants to raise this with their landlords, but if they feel they’re not getting support, to come and talk to us as a council because we do have private sector enforcement officers who will then tackle some of these landlords if they’re not meeting the standards that are expected.

“Some private tenants may be afraid to come forward and raise issues, because they feel they would lose their tenancy.

“I’d encourage tenants not to be afraid.

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“If there are issues, bring them forward and we’ll take them up through our officers on your behalf.”

The council’s cabinet agreed a report to tackle damp and mould issues in rented homes, including a task force for the most urgent cases to be solved within 24 hours.

It’s hoped the 24-hour around-the-clock service will be in place by the end of the month.

In private rented properties, 80 complaints of damp and mould were made in the 12 months to November 22.

The report highlights the 562 ‘live requests’ relating to damp, mould or condensation as of November 30, which ‘significantly increased’ by 59 per cent during the month.