Emergency hazards to be repaired in 24 hours through Awaab's Law
The Housing Secretary launches a consultation proposing new legal requirements for social landlords to address hazards including damp and mould quickly
New plans to clamp down on rogue social landlords who fail to provide safe homes have been announced today, supporting the Government’s pledge to deliver Awaab’s Law.
The two-year-old from Rochdale died from a respiratory condition caused by extensive mould in the flat where he lived, and the Government is taking action to introduce lifechanging reforms in social housing to prevent future tragedies.
The Awaab’s Law consultation has been launched by the Housing Secretary, which proposes introducing new strict time limits for social housing providers and force them to take swift action in addressing dangerous hazards such as damp and mould.
It proposes new legal requirements for social landlords to investigate hazards within 14 days, start fixing within a further 7 days, and make emergency repairs within 24 hours. Those landlords who fail can be taken to court where they may be ordered to pay compensation for tenants.
Landlords will be expected to keep clear records to improve transparency for tenants – showing every attempt is made to comply with the new timescales so they can no longer dither and delay to rectify people’s homes.
Housing Secretary, Michael Gove said:
“The tragic death of Awaab Ishak should never have happened. His family have shown courageous leadership, determination and dignity to champion these changes and now it’s time for us to deliver for them through Awaab’s Law.
“Today is about stronger and more robust action against social landlords who have refused to take their basic responsibilities seriously for far too long. We will force them to fix their homes within strict new time limits and take immediate action to tackle dangerous damp and mould to help prevent future tragedies.
“Alongside Awaab’s Law, our landmark Social Housing Act will drastically improve the quality of life in social housing, granting residents a proper voice to fight those who think they can cheat the system and ensuring rogue landlords face the full force of the law.”
Faisal Abdullah, Awaab’s Father said:
“We hope that Awaab’s Law will stop any other family going through the pain that we went through. Landlords need to listen to the concerns of tenants and we support these proposals.”
Social Housing campaigner, Kwajo Tweneboa said:
“As we know many families across the country are still living in homes with damp and mould, creating misery but more worryingly risks their health and safety.
“I’m pleased to see Awaab’s Law reach the consultation phase and hope that it goes far enough to prevent other families going through the tragedy Awaab’s family have had to. It’s crucial the government are able to make sure this law has teeth and is enforced for it to work as intended.”
Through the measures announced today tenants will be able to take their landlords to court if they fail to fix dangerous hazards. This builds on the progress already made to drive up standards in social housing.
There has been consistent improvement in the quality of social homes since 2010 – with a reduction in non-decent social homes from 20% in 2010 to 10% last year – but the Government recognises there is more work to do.
The Social Housing (Regulation) Act, which became law last year, will equip the Regulator of Social Housing and tenants with stronger powers and rights to hold the small minority of rogue landlords accountable.
New enforcement powers will also be available for the Regulator to weed out bad landlord practices – including issuing unlimited fines and entering properties with only 48 hours’ notice to make emergency repairs in the most severe cases.
As part of changes to deliver Awaab’s Law, the Government recently consulted on what more tenants need to better understand their rights and challenge social landlords when things go wrong – the direction to the Regulator will be published in the coming weeks.
This is the latest step in addressing systemic issues identified following the Grenfell Tower fire – not just the safety and quality of social housing but how tenants are treated by their landlords.