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The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023: Awaab’s Law

Posted: 11/01/2024

This series of ‘back to the future’ articles looks at the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, the changes made, and what social housing providers should be aware of, as well as examining whether it is entirely new law, or a re-invention of something previously seen within the social housing sector.

This is the fourth article in the series, which looks at ‘Awaab’s Law’.

The Social Housing (Regulation) Bill (as it then was) was amended following the tragic death of Awaab Ishak to enact what the government has called ‘Awaab’s Law’, to force social landlords to fix damp and mould within strict time limits.

Awaab’s Law amends the implied repairing obligations in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. A new section 10A is inserted in respect of social housing tenancies only. It implies a term that the landlord will comply with ‘all prescribed requirements that are applicable to that lease’. The secretary of state must make regulations which require the landlord to take action in respect of prescribed hazards within specified timeframes. 

The government has launched a consultation on Awaab’s Law – which closes on 5 March 2024 – in order to determine how long a landlord should be given to deal with hazards. The consultation sets out seven proposals, on which responses are sought. These are:

  • The landlord should investigate the hazard within 14 days of being made aware of that potential hazard.
  • The landlord should provide a written summary of findings to the resident within 14 days of being made aware of the potential hazard. The summary must include details of any hazard identified and next steps, including an anticipated timeline for repair and a schedule of works.
  • If hazards are identified, works must begin within seven days of the written summary being issued.
  • Works should be completed within a reasonable period of time.
  • Landlords must action emergency repairs as soon as practicable and, in any event, within 24 hours.
  • If the investigation finds a hazard that poses a significant or imminent risk of harm or danger and the property cannot be made safe within the specified timescales for Awaab’s Law, the landlord must offer temporary accommodation until the property is made safe.
  • The landlord must keep clear records of all attempts to comply with the proposals.

The outcome of the consultation will determine the final timescales and requirements that will make up Awaab’s Law. If the above proposals are all brought in, there is still much scope for argument about the severity of hazards and whether they constitute an emergency, what constitutes a ‘reasonable period of time’, and whether temporary accommodation should be provided. Landlords will need to keep very clear records of their investigations into defects and be able to justify decisions made regarding works and temporary accommodation.

So, it is a new law, but is it that new? Current legislation requires works to be completed within a ‘reasonable’ period of time, so this amendment to existing legislation essentially adds more detail to that requirement, with some added timescales to get works started and deal with urgent issues.

To see the government consultation, see here.

Our next ‘back to the future’ article will look at the regulator’s new powers. Subsequent articles in this series will consider the following aspects: consumer regulation and electrical safety.

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