Failing social housing landlords could face unlimited fines and “Ofsted-style” inspections under a new bill set to be introduced today.
The Social Housing Regulation Bill would award the Regulator of Social Housing stronger powers to issue failing landlords with 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.
It is being described as a “major reset of power” between tenants and landlords.
With the bill set to be introduced to parliament today, it means that residents will soon be able to demand information and rate their landlord as part of new satisfaction measures.
Not only that, but tenants will also have a direct line to government under the bill, with a new 250-person residents panel meeting up every four months to share their experiences with ministers, inform policy thinking, and ultimately, help to “drive change” in the sector.
The bill will also remove the legislative barrier that is the serious detriment test, which will make it easier for the Regulator to tackle poor performing landlords once axed, and it will also mean landlords will need to have a named person who will be responsible for health and safety requirements.
Tenants of housing associations will even be able to request information from their landlord too, which is similar to how the Freedom of Information Act works for council housing, according to the government.
“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,” said Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.
“These new laws will end this injustice and ensure the regulator has strong new powers to take on rogue social landlords [as] 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.”
The government says the introduction of the bill is the latest step in the mission to halve the number of poor-quality rented homes by 2030, and it will mean that more people get to enjoy the quality of life they “deserve”.
The National Housing Federation also says it welcomes the aims of the bill.
“Having a home that is warm and dry, safe, secure and affordable is the right of every person in this country [and] for social housing providers, this means providing high quality living standards in every home and carrying out repairs on time,” added Kate Henderson – Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation.
Keir Starmer says Labour will ‘freeze’ council tax this year if elected
Keir Starmer has said he will “freeze” council tax in England this year if Labour triumphs in the upcoming local elections.
The Labour leader says his party will cut tax “for the many, not just for the top 1%.”
With the next local elections coming up on 4 May 2023, and Labour hoping to gain in its number of seats across England and Wales, Sir Keir Starmer appeared in Swindon today to launch his party’s election campaign, and hit out at the Conservative Party for being “nowhere near good enough” over their last 13 years of power.
Starmer notably blasted the Tories for their decision to raise tax-free pension limits in its most recent Budget announcement – which is set to benefit the most well-off in our society – and said Labour would counteract this and represent working people.
It comes after almost three in four local Councils say they are planning to increase the cost by the maximum amount allowed after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt raised the cap on council tax increases without a referendum from 3% to 5%.
Council leaders claim they have “little choice” but to increase costs as the rising cost of living crisis sadly continues to make its impact felt nationwide.
Speaking at the launch of Labour’s campaign today, Starmer stated “there is a choice on tax” for the public to make in the upcoming local elections.
He added: “A Tory choice – taxes up for working people, tax cuts for the 1% – or a Labour choice, where we cut business rates to save our high streets and where, if there was a Labour government, you could take that council tax rise you just got and rip it up.
“A Labour government would freeze your council tax this year – that’s our choice. A tax cut for the many, not just for the top 1%. So take this message to every doorstep in your community: Labour is the party of lower taxes for working people.
“That’s the difference we can make. That’s the choice in May. A better Britain.”
Starmer said he intends for the pledges he made in Labour’s local election campaign launch to “send a message to the government” after their 13 years in power.
“What they’ve delivered to our country nowhere near good enough,” he said
“We’ve got to get out there and show people the difference Labour can make. Let them see our hunger for change. We have to prove that this suffocating cost of living crisis, the path of decline the Tories have set Britain on, the endless sticking plaster politics, is not inevitable.