Social landlords may be subject to Ofsted-style emergency inspections and unlimited fines as part of a series of new measures aimed at tackling substandard social housing.
The new bill for general housing regulation will give the public housing inspectorate the opportunity to enter properties with only 48 hours notice and make emergency repairs where there is a serious risk to the tenants, where the landlord pays the bill.
Real estate experts praised the reforms, saying they would “tilt the ladder of power” in favor of tenants and make sure they could not be ignored by landlords.
I previously reported how tenants of social housing say they were left for years in damp, moldy homes without landlords and building associations making necessary repairs.
According to the proposals released today, residents would also be able to request information and assess their landlord, the Department of Leveling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said.
And a panel of 250 residents meets three times a year to share their experiences with ministers and inform on policy.
The government said the bill was “the last step in solving the systemic problems” identified after the fire in Grenfell Tower, days before the disaster’s five-year anniversary.
Leveling Secretary Michael Gove said: “In 2022, it is a shame that someone lives in damp, cold and dangerous homes, waits months for repairs and is regularly ignored by the landlord.
“These new laws will put an end to this injustice and ensure that the regulator has new strong powers to deal with rogue social landowners.
“We are raising the housing social standard and giving the residents a voice to ensure that they get the housing they deserve. This is on the rise in action ”.
According to the bill, owners must have a person designated who will be responsible for health and safety requirements.
Major social housing providers will face regular inspections where Gove is busy “giving name and shame” to those who fall short.
It comes just weeks after Mr Gove expressed his disappointment with Britain’s largest social landowner, Clarion, after the housing ombudsman found serious cases of maladministration.
Polly Neate, Shelter’s CEO, said: “The tenants of social housing have endured too much for too long, too many have been ignored and stigmatized because of where they live.
“Five long years after Grenfell, this bill will tip the balance of power in the direction of justice and accountability.
“When the bill passes through the Folketing, it is imperative that it is robust enough to really take into account landowners.
“It means ongoing oversight and greater industry professionalization – just as we expect a teacher or nurse to have relevant qualifications, we should expect that from our social owners.”
Kate Henderson, executive director of the National Housing Federation, said: “State data shows that on average, social housing is of better quality than other rental housing, but we have seen cases where tenants of social housing have had to live in sloppy properties and this is not acceptable.
“We welcome the objectives of this bill to strengthen tenants and improve access to prompt and equitable remedies.
“Over 200 construction associations have already taken steps to strengthen the relationship between residents and owners by joining Together with Tenants, an industry initiative that sets new standards for the relationship between tenants.”