Maintenance, Social Housing

Empowering tenants to act with the Social Housing Act

What is the Social Housing Act 2023 and Awaab's Law and how will proposed changes impact social landlords and tenants?

What is the Social Housing Act 2023?

The Social Housing Act 2023 aims to deliver the proposals set out in the Social Housing White Paper by introducing measures that aim to improve fairness and accountability for residents.

Made law on 21st July 2023, the act gives social housing tenants greater powers to hold their landlord to account, with measures introduced to ensure complaints are dealt with quicker and enhance the role of the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH). This includes complaints relating to the disrepair or decency of a home, such as the presence of damp and mould.

What measures are included in the Social Housing Act 2023?

Social Housing Regulation Bill

Under the Act, new measures include:

  • New powers for the Regulator of Social Housing: The RSH will be given new powers to carry out regular inspections of the largest social housing providers and to issue unlimited fines to rogue landlords.
  • Giving tenants a stronger voice: The Housing Ombudsman will be given additional powers to publish best practice guidance to landlords following investigations into tenant complaints.
  • Tenants will also be given the right to vote on the appointment of the chair of their landlord’s board.
  • Setting strict time limits for addressing hazards: Social landlords will be required to set strict time limits for addressing hazards such as damp and mould. If they fail to meet these time limits, they could face enforcement action from the RSH.
  • Introducing new qualification requirements for social housing managers: New qualification requirements will be introduced for social housing managers. This is intended to ensure that managers have the skills and knowledge necessary to provide high-quality housing services.

Awaab’s Law as part of the Social Housing Act 2023

The Act also includes Awaab’s Law, providing more rights and protection to residents in homes affected by damp and mould, after Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove pledged his support following the tragic death of Awaab in 2022 as a result of prolonged exposure to mould in his socially rented home.

Speaking on the day the Act received Royal Assent, Michael Gove, said: “Today 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.

“Awaab’s Law will force social landlords to take immediate action on dangerous damp and mould as we introduce new strict time limits to fix their homes.  I am incredibly grateful to Awaab’s family who have displayed such courage, dignity and leadership in pushing for change and securing these vital reforms.” 

Strict new timescales for social landlords to make repairs

In early 2024, the government launched a consultation on specific proposals that will apply to councils and housing associations as part of Awaab’s Law. This consultation document provides further details on the the proposed time periods that social landlords will have to make repairs:

  • 14 days to start an investigation after receiving a report of a hazard
  • Seven days to take action to fix a hazard
  • 24 hours to fix an emergency hazard

If the home cannot be made safe within the prescribed timescales, landlords must move the tenant to suitable alternative accommodation until it is safe to return.

Awaab’s Law would mean social landlords must also take into account the individual tenant’s health. For example, a certain level of damp and mould may not warrant an emergency repair for someone without any serious health conditions, but it may for someone who has asthma. If a landlord receives evidence from third parties – such as healthcare providers, social workers or schools – they should also factor this into their assessment of the category of the hazard.

After the initial inspection, the landlord will have two days to produce a written report and give it to the tenant. It must include comprehensive details of the investigation, the hazard and any risk it poses to the tenant, how the hazard will be fixed and an estimated completion time.

What will change now the Act is law?

The Social Housing Act 2023 strengthens the rights of tenants, empowering them to make their voices heard, as well as giving the RSH stronger powers to act if things go wrong.

The Regulator of Social Housing will have a legal duty to publish a plan on its commitment to regularly inspect the largest landlords, including details on how often these will happen. The current cap on fines for landlords will also be removed, with the RSH able to issue landlords uncapped fines to those who fail to meet required standards.

What other steps are being taken to empower social housing tenants?

Social Housing Regulation Bill

A new government-backed training scheme, launching in 2023, aims to help social housing tenants hold their landlord to account.

The initiative, announced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and funded by grants, is part of wider post-Grenfell reforms intended to give social housing tenants a stronger voice through workshops, forums and online resources.

Introduced under the Social Housing Act 2023, new Tenant Satisfaction Measures will allow tenants to see how their landlord is performing compared to other landlords and help the RSH decide where to focus its attention.

Alongside these measures, a Social Housing Quality Resident Panel, with over 250 members, also launched late 2022 to advise the government on improving standards following a commitment made in the Social Housing White Paper to rebalance the relationship between tenants and landlords.

The panel will advise on the development of measures in upcoming legislation and proposed approaches to driving up social housing quality. Members of the panel will share their experiences with ministers, inform policy change and ensure resident voices shape the government’s plans to reform social housing. Topics to be discussed include a review of the Decent Homes Standard, the effectiveness of the complaints system and improving tenants’ access to information about their landlords.

Following the Social Housing Act receiving Royal Assent, all social housing providers will now need to ensure all staff have “the right skills, experience and knowledge to deliver a high-quality service for residents” to comply with the law.

View FireAngel’s advanced environmental sensing solutions to support compliance with the Social Housing Act 2023. 

Read more: How could sensor technology support with reducing disrepair claims against social landlords


*Please note: The above summary is based on FireAngel’s interpretation of The Social Housing Act 2023, always refer to the standard for specific guidance