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26 Jan 2024 < Back

Awaab’s Law Consultation

Described as the ‘biggest government reform in a decade affecting social housing’ the government has tabled amendments to the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill to introduce ‘Awaab’s Law’, which will require landlords to fix reported health hazards within specified timeframes. 

It is encouraging to see damp and mould being taken with the upmost seriousness. But, as is too often the case, it is a travesty that it has taken such tragic events to get us to this point. Having read the consultation, I believe there is a lot to be encouraged by here.  

What is the new law expecting of social landlords?  

Under the proposals social landlords will be required to investigate hazards within 14 days. They will then have to start fixing the hazards within a further seven days. All emergency repairs would require to be undertaken within 24 hours.

The consultation proposes that those who fail to meet these deadlines could be taken to court where they might be ordered to pay compensation to tenants.

Medical evidence 

Despite initial appeals, the proposal infers that they do not wish for medical evidence to be the catalyst for action. We agree this should absolutely not be the case. We should be working to prevent the issues, not acting once they become a problem.

Guidance on damp and mould 

On numerous occasions the proposal refers readers back to the government’s guidance Understanding and addressing the health risks of damp and mould in the home, which we have discussed in a previous blog and whilst not a perfect document, it certainly should be applauded for setting out what a qualified professional for the inspection of damp should look like. 

A concern 

I have one slight concern about the proposal. As previously explained, it is suggested that if an investigation finds a hazard that poses a significant risk to the health or safety of the resident, the registered providers must begin work to repair the hazard within seven days of the written summary being issued. 

It’s considered that ‘beginning’ repair works would entail a worker being on site physically starting to repair and rectify a hazard. It will be irrelevant whether works are carried out by in-house workers, external contractors, or a combination. 

So far this all sounds quite reasonable and laudable, so what is my concern? Well, it comes down to the capacity of decent contractors. Good contractors are quite rightly in high demand and may struggle to accommodate these works at such short notice. With such tight timescales, will we encourage social landlords to turn to less reputable contractors?

Solving damp related problems can be a complex task, but not approaching it correctly can lead to costly, ineffective or unnecessary treatments. This is not an outcome anybody wants to see. We must ensure that landlords are signposted to competent contractors such as members of the Association.

Opportunity for members to have their say?

We will of course be responding in full to the consultation but we will equally be giving members the opportunity to contribute to the respond on 13 February at the Residential Ventilation Group meeting (RVG).

The consultation closes on 5 March and can be found through the button below.

Find out more >>

Comments

 

Gordon Robb ODC Ltd

Hi James Ive been trying to warm the East Dunbartonshire council of the problems to expect following the passing of that wee boy. I regularly are involved in tenants complaining to their council of mould and damp and in most of the cases apart from some its mostly bad moisture management that we are to well aware of. The latest problem I foresee is the lawyers adverts which have appeared on tv saying do you have mould in your house, then contact us for compensation claim (no claim no fee) I just think the flood gates will open.

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