The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced that the Social Housing Act 2023 has received Royal Assent, becoming law in the United Kingdom.
Bringing about a number of significant changes to the social housing sector, the act is aiming to improve standards and give tenants a stronger voice whilst also making it easier for tenants to hold landlords to account. These benefits are alongside the wider improvements to the housing market, making it easier for people to move into homeownership and reducing the demand for private rented accommodation.
A key part of the new regulations is Awaab’s Law, which is being introduced following the tragic death of Awaab Ishak in 2022. Through the new law, all landlords are required to fix report health and safety hazards within a strict time frame.
Some of the key changes introduced by the Act include:
- New powers for the Regulator of Social Housing: The Regulator of Social Housing (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.
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling p, Housing and Communities, 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.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Chartered Institute for Housing, Gavin Smart, added:
“We’re delighted to see that the Social Housing (Regulation) Act has now been passed and congratulate all involved in its development.
“The act will provide an important foundation for giving tenants a greater voice, improving access to redress and increasing the focus on professionalism in the sector.”