Government proposing to allow tenants to more easily access information about the management of their homes ‘to hold their landlords to account’

The government has launched a consultation on the rights of social housing tenants to request information from their landlords on the management of their homes.

Baroness Scott


Minister for social housing, baroness Jane Scott, says the new rules will give tenants the tools they need to hold landlords to account and drive up standards 

The consultation, which the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) opened yesterday, will be used to develop rules regarding access to information for social housing tenants.

For the first time, the rules will permit social housing tenants or their representatives, such as lawyers, to request information about the management of their homes at no cost.

DLUHC said that tenants could request information on issues such as damp and mould, health and safety and repair times.

For example, tenants experiencing damp and mould would be able to ask their landlord how many other homes in their building have the same problem and what action the landlord has taken to repair it. DLUHC said this would give tenants “the tools to take further action if they choose”.

Regarding health and safety issues, tenants would have a right to request information about any breaches in their properties and outcomes of any inspections. The consultation says that “tenants could take further action through the Housing Ombudsman if their landlord isn’t making the repairs they need to make by law”.

Under Awaab’s Law, which is part of the Social Housing (Regulation) Act, landlords must fix emergency repairs within 24 hours. DLUHC stated that “tenants will be able to see how often their landlord is meeting this target and challenge them through the courts or take them to the Housing Ombudsman if they don’t”.

Housing associations will also be required to publish information about their performance.

Landlords will have to provide the information unless it is reasonable not to, with clear guidelines on how they respond to requests.

Tenants will be able to complain to the Housing Ombudsman if they are not happy with how their information request has been handled.

DLUHC expects information requests to cost registered providers around £1.8m in year one, based on estimates of how long it will take landlords to respond, as well as any additional requests and reviews.

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There will be a cost associated with the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) responding to complaints from tenants regarding landlords’ compliance with the requirements.

The Housing Ombudsman will consult with registered providers on the proposed fee regime, a year after the new information rules have been introduced “so proposals can take account of actual volumes and costs”.

Minister for social housing, baroness Jane Scott, said: “We are creating a culture of openness and transparency among social landlords and tenants, giving residents the tools they need to hold their landlords to account so they can raise standards to the high level they rightly expect.

“This is part of the biggest government reforms to affect social housing in a decade, which will be crucial in addressing systemic issues relating to safety, quality and tenant-landlord relationships that were identified after the Grenfell Tower fire.”

The consultation on Awaab’s Law closed on 5 March and the government is analysing the responses. The government said: ”Once this has been completed, we will publish a response setting out findings and will bring requirements into force via secondary legislation as soon as possible.”