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Housing Solicitors

Social housing proposals 'to give tenants greater power' (21 August 2018)

Date: 21/08/2018
Duncan Lewis, Housing Solicitors, Social housing proposals 'to give tenants greater power'

Aims to give tenants greater support in holding their landlords to account is being considered as part of new government proposals on social housing.

The Green Paper would include speeding up the complaints procedure and publishing a league table to highlight the performance of landlords.

The plans are part of the government’s "fundamental rethink" on social housing following the tragic events of Grenfell.

This comes a day after the government unveiled its £100m investment into tackling rough sleeping.

The plans introduce a rating system for landlords to hold their actions to account and providing the regulators with greater powers to be able intervene on issues that matter most to tenants.

It also outlines changes to make it easier for tenants to own their homes, such as allowing them to use the government's shared ownership scheme to purchase as little as 1% of their property each year.

The government has also unveiled a separate consultation into how councils spend the money from Right to Buy sales, as it looks to increase the number of local authority homes. These proposals make it easier for councils to replace properties sold under Right to Buy, and to build more affordable homes to try to resolve the housing crisis.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire stated:

"Our Green Paper offers a landmark opportunity for major reform to improve fairness, quality and safety for residents living in social housing across the country.

"Regardless of whether you own your home or rent, residents deserve security, dignity and the opportunities to build a better life."

The housing charity Shelter showed that 1.15 million households were on social housing waiting lists in England last year. Of the 290,000 homes that did become available in 2017, fewer than 14,000 were ‘new build’ homes.

There were less than 6,000 social homes completed in England in 2017. However, it is estimated the requirement is much higher, with figures ranging from 70,000 and 90,000 homes created every year to meet social housing needs.

Prime Minister Theresa May when speaking about Grenfell said:

"For too long in our country, we simply haven't given enough attention to social housing", and "let the legacy of this awful tragedy be that we resolve never to forget these people and instead to gear our policies and our thinking towards making their lives better and bringing them into the political process".

Sajid Javid stated, "The green paper will be the most substantial report of its kind for a generation".

The aims of these measures are to reduce the stigma of social housing, of ensuring that tenants' rights and concerns are treated properly and that the homes are of decent quality.

The proposals have been met with a mixed reaction. Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said the government's plan was "full of warm words, but doesn't commit a single extra penny towards building the social homes needed by the 1.2 million people on the waiting list".

Judith Blake, housing spokeswoman for the Local Government Association, said the proposals were "a step towards delivering more social homes" however this is "only a small step".

"There is a desperate need to reverse the decline in council housing over the past few decades," Ms Blake warns.

Shadow housing secretary, John Healey said the offering from the government was "pitiful", with nothing that "measures up to the scale of the housing crisis…The number of new social rented homes is at a record low but there is no new money to increase supply, and ministers are still preventing local authorities run by all parties from building the council homes their communities need."

Manjinder Kaur Atwal is a Housing Director at Duncan Lewis Solicitors and can advise on disrepair matters and all other housing issues. For expert housing advice, contact Manjinder on 020 3114 1269 or email her at manjindera@duncanlewis.com.

Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors

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