Social housing landlords who fail tenants face unlimited fines under new bill

·3-min read

Social housing landlords who are failing tenants will face unlimited fines, according to Government proposals aimed at tackling damp, cold and unsafe homes.

The social housing regulator will get greater powers and there will be a “major reset” of the relationship between landlords and tenants, under a bill being introduced to parliament on Wednesday.

The Social Housing Regulation Bill will enable the regulator to inspect properties at 48 hours’ notice, issue unlimited fines and make emergency repairs where there is a serious risk to tenants.

Under the proposals, which include new satisfaction measures, residents would be able to demand information and rate their landlord, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said.

And a 250-person residents panel will convene three times a year to share their experiences with ministers and inform policy.

The Government said the bill is the “latest step in addressing the systemic issues” identified following the Grenfell Tower fire.

The fifth anniversary of the tower block blaze, on June 14 2017, falls next week.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “In 2022 it is disgraceful that anyone should live in damp, cold and unsafe homes, waiting months for repairs and being routinely ignored by their landlord.

“These new laws will end this injustice and ensure the regulator has strong new powers to take on rogue social landlords.

“We are driving up the standards of social housing and giving residents a voice to make sure they get the homes they deserve. That is levelling up in action.”

Under the bill, landlords will need to have a named person who will be responsible for health and safety requirements.

The biggest social housing providers will face regular inspections, with Mr Gove committed to ‘naming and shaming’ those who fall short.

It comes a few weeks after Mr Gove expressed his disappointment with Britain’s biggest social landlord Clarion, after the Housing Ombudsman found severe cases of maladministration.

Polly Neate, chief executive, Shelter said: “Social housing tenants have put up with too much for too long – too many have been ignored and stigmatised because of where they live.

“Five long years after Grenfell, this Bill will tip the scales of power closer in the direction of fairness and accountability.

“As the Bill moves through Parliament it’s crucial that it’s robust enough to truly hold landlords to account.

“That means regular inspections and increased professionalisation of the industry – just as we would expect a teacher or a nurse to have relevant qualifications, we should expect this of our social landlords.”

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “Government data shows that on average social homes are better quality than other rented homes, however we have seen instances where social housing tenants have had to live in substandard properties and this is not acceptable.

“We welcome the aims of this bill to give tenant’s greater powers and improve access to swift and fair redress.

“Over 200 housing associations have already taken steps to strengthen relationships between residents and landlords by signing up to Together with Tenants, a sector-led initiative which sets new standards for tenant and landlord relationships.”

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