A new report on the Regulation of Social Housing addresses a series of issues relating to the supply, quality, and regulation of social housing in England. The report, by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, said that social housing providers must significantly improve their complaints handling process to better support vulnerable tenants.
Made up of cross-party MPs, the committee acknowledged a deterioration in the condition of social housing in England, with many people suffering in homes that are unfit for human habitation. It, therefore, made a series of recommendations from tougher sanctions for the worst service providers to higher levels of compensation for those suffering in squalid conditions.
Commenting on the report, Clive Betts, Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, said: “Too many social housing tenants are living in uninhabitable homes and experiencing appalling conditions and levels of disrepair, including serious damp and mould, with potential serious impacts on their mental and physical health.
“The poor complaint handling of some providers not only adds insult to injury but the resulting delays in resolving tenant complaints actively contributes to the levels of disrepair. Sadly, beyond the distress of experiencing poor living conditions, it is undeniable that tenants also face poor treatment from providers who discriminate and stigmatise people because they are social housing tenants.
“This must change. Providers need to up their game, treat tenants with dignity and respect, and put tenants at the centre of how they deliver housing services, including by regularly monitoring the condition of their housing stock. Where they fail, providers should face the prospect of tough action from a more active regulator. Given the financial loss, inconvenience, and distress caused to tenants from serious cases of disrepair, the Government also needs to equip the ombudsman with the power to award far higher levels of compensation to tenants when there has been serious service failings.”
Jessica Hampson, Founder and Director at CEL Solicitors, said: “For too long tenants have been fighting for the basic human right to live in a home that is safe and fit for habitation. Despite change being long overdue we welcome this report and support its recommendations. Tough sanctions for social housing providers that fail to meet the needs of their tenants are absolutely crucial in order to improve service provision. Higher levels of compensation are also important to reflect the severity of the issue these tenants face.”
The report cited social housing provider failures were contributing to the housing disrepair crisis and called for tougher measures to tackle social housing failures and inequalities.