Shelter - for so long an outspoken critic of private rental landlords and letting agencies - has now turned its fire on the social housing sector.
In response to a government announcement of a new inspection and regulation regime for social housing, as part of a new Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, launched this week in the House of Commons.
Shelter chief executive Polly Neate says: "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.”
In theory, the Bill - ion it becomes law in its present form - means that social housing landlords could face unlimited fines and Ofsted-style inspections.
The Regulator of Social Housing will have stronger powers to issue unlimited fines, enter properties with only 48 hours’ notice – down from 28 days – and make emergency repairs where there is a serious risk to tenants, with landlords footing the bill.
In what the government calls ”a major reset of power between tenants and landlords” residents will be able to demand information and rate their landlord as part of new satisfaction measures.
Tenants will also have a direct line to government, with a new 250-person residents panel convening every 4 months to share their experiences with ministers, inform policy thinking and help drive change in the sector.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove says: “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.”
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