Maintenance, Social Housing
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.
Under the Act, new measures include:
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.”
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.
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.
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*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