Social Landlords Face Increase in Repeat Enforcement Action
It has recently been revealed that enforcement action against social landlords is on the rise. While it hasn’t been uncommon for this to happen, repeat enforcement action has been happening for the same repairs on the same houses.
Due to labour shortages and supply issues, landlords haven’t been able to meet the required dates according to settlements. This has led to repeat enforcement action for the same unrepaired issues for the same tenants. The landlord essentially breaches the terms of the settlement, leading to more enforcement action.
After legal action from the tenant over the condition of their home, the social landlord settles, paying damages, reasonable costs and promises to conduct repairs within a specified timescale. Unfortunately, works aren’t completed within the specified time slot due to various shortages. Further enforcement means further fines, and fines have also been on the increase.
The pandemic has caused a knock-on effect with staffing issues, contractor issues and supply issues with building materials. This has meant that any specified timescales have been unrealistic and outside of landlords’ control. Because of the rise in repeat enforcement actions, longer lead times are being written into settlements to allow for more time and limit the amount of fines.
While some social landlords are worse than others and are almost expected to receive enforcement action, the cases have been on the increase recently. This has led to many unhappy tenants with unfixed issues within their homes.
In March 2022, the government implemented a “name and shame” policy for failing landlords in order to give better support and a voice for social housing tenants. They publicly call them out on their website and social media channels. On top of this, a Resident Panel allows tenants from social housing to have their voices heard by parliament, so issues with failing social housing providers will be listened to. This is all in a bid to halve the number of non-decent homes by 2030.
According to a recent survey from the Regulator of Social Housing, investment in major repairs across the sector was 33% below target in the second quarter because of the rise of inflation, alongside labour and material shortages.
On top of this, the government is looking to propose a rent increase cap of 3, 5 or 7% in the next financial year, which would cost the sector around £1.3 billion. Without additional funding, housing associations may have to compromise on what services they can fund. However, this move is designed to save households £300 a year and provide stability for four million families.
With the economy crashing after the mini-budget announcement, this is just the latest addition to pressures on households. While the social rent cap affects tenants and social housing alike, issues from all sides are causing delays and uncertainty in all markets.