24 August, 2018
The August 2018 Social Housing Green Paper, has been published in response to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, which highlighted how the law on housing conditions falls short of ensuring tenant safety.
The Paper promises to offer a 'new deal for social housing', by rebalancing the relationships between residents and landlords.
The Green Paper proposes five principles that have been said to help underpin a new, fairer deal for social housing tenants: -
1. Ensuring homes are safe and decent
The Government proposes to aim to ensure 'safe and decent homes', by banning certain materials. The Government has offered a £400 million renovation scheme for social housing providers, to ensure that dangerous materials, like the cladding used within Grenfell Tower, are removed and replaced with safer materials. The Government also intends to review its 'Decent Homes Standard' which currently requires social housing homes to be free of hazards, to be in a reasonable state of repair and to have reasonably modern facilities and services.
2. Effective resolution of complaints
There are currently various ways in which a resident can make a complaint regarding the actions of their landlord, whether that be through the landlord's complaints procedure, their MP or through the Housing Ombudsmen. Many residents have concerns, however, about the length of time it takes in order for their complaint to be resolved or have stated that they are simply unaware of how to complain.
The Government considers that the 'new plans' would make it easier for disputes to be resolved and speed up the process of complaints, especially where there are safety issues.
It is not clear exactly how the process would differ from the procedures currently in place.
3. Empowering residents and strengthening the Regulator.
The Government wants residents to be able to compare performance more easily and for landlords to be assessed against standards that matter to residents. It intends to do so, through the use of key performance indicators and essentially producing a league table, naming and shaming landlords that do not meet the standards of its residents. It intends to reward 'good' landlords with funding towards various housing programmes.
4. Tackling stigma and celebrating thriving communities
The Green Paper suggests that there is a negative stigma placed on social residents and they are stereotyped when identified as living in social housing, even by their landlord. The Green Paper offers an opportunity for a change in the way social housing residents are viewed and states a determination to tackle such prejudice to ensure that the positive contribution that social housing residents make to their communities, and to society as a whole, is recognised. It intends to do so by awarding investment to support successful initiatives to grow and funding community lead projects, to bring people together across housing tenures and generate a sense of pride. The Green Paper also suggests that it intends to improve the design and quality of homes and their surrounding area, to increase the wellbeing, integration and tackle stigma.
5. Expanding supply and supporting home ownership.
The reform sets out a plan that would make it easier for residents to get a foot on to the property ladder, by buying their properties from local authority landlords. Residents will be able to able to purchase their property, at a minimum of one per cent of their property each year, under the Government's shared ownership programme.
Since the publishing of the Social Housing Green Paper, there has been many mixed reviews. Where many agree that landlords should be held accountable, some argue that the contents of the Green Paper can be used as a weapon and fails to welcome any concreate plans that will make any significant difference in the future.
The Green Paper currently sits as a guide of what can be expected to come and the Government seeks responses to proposals relating to social housing in response to its consultation. (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-new-deal-for-social-housing)
For more information contact Darren Burton in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01257 240827. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.