Landmark legislation for social housing unveiled

Landmark legislation for social housing unveiled

0:01 AM, 24th July 2023, About 11 months ago

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The Social Housing Regulation Bill has now become law in what is being hailed as landmark legislation in the sector.

The Bill received Royal Assent last week and sets out new reforms for social housing landlords.

According to the English Housing Survey 2021-2022, there are nine million people in England who live in social homes and nearly one million are stuck on social housing waiting lists.

‘Social housing bill is an important step towards righting the wrongs of the past’

The Bill includes Awaab’s law, which will require social housing landlords to fix reported health hazards such as mould within strict time limits.

The toddler died in Rochdale from a respiratory condition that had been caused by exposure to mould in his social housing flat.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, Michael Gove MP, said: “The Social Housing Bill is an important step towards righting the wrongs of the past. Our landmark laws will drive up standards of social housing and give residents a proper voice.

“The Social Housing Act will help to ensure that tenants get the safe, warm and decent homes they deserve – and those who have seriously neglected their responsibilities for far too long will face the consequences.”

One in 10 social tenants feel their home is unsafe

According to a social housing government survey last year, 29% of social tenants were dissatisfied with the service they received when they reported a repair to their landlord in the last 12 months.

Almost one in 10 (8%) social tenants feel their home is unsafe. Of those who feel their home is unsafe, over half (56%) say this is due to mould, damp or condensation.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The landmark legislation means social landlords must be professionally qualified and can be properly held to account for the homes they let out.

“The Act should mark a step change in ensuring tenants have homes which are fit to live in, and that nobody’s life is put at risk, as has happened too many times before, from Grenfell to the tragic death of Awaab Ishak.”

She added: “Social housing has a vital role to play in providing decent, secure homes that are genuinely affordable for people, but to do that it desperately needs more government investment to both improve the existing homes and build new ones.”

Landlords will need to demonstrate how they’re providing good quality homes

The Regulator of Social Housing will also gain the power to issue unlimited fines to rogue social landlords and carry out regular inspections of the largest social housing providers.

Fiona MacGregor, chief executive of the Regulator of Social Housing, said that the regular inspections will start next year.

She said: “We’re gearing up to start our new programme of regulatory inspections from next April, and landlords will need to demonstrate how they’re providing good quality homes and services for tenants as well as meeting our governance and viability standards.”

Other measures in the Bill, will require social housing managers to have professional qualifications. Also the Housing Ombudsman will gain powers  to publish best practice guidance to landlords following investigations into tenant complaints.

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