On 9 January, a new consultation was issued by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) regarding the proposals and implementation of Awaab’s Law. The consultation applies to England only and will close on 5 March 2024. The content of this consultation will impact all social housing landlords as well as many other parties.

Last year we saw the introduction of Awaab’s Law within the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 requiring registered providers to comply with new requirements which this consultation relates to. The law was implemented following the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak whose death was attributed to prolonged exposure to damp and mould in his family home.

Awaab’s Law focuses on the obligations of social landlords to ensure rental properties are free from damp and mould and also many other hazardous conditions.  It effectively inserts into social housing tenancy agreements an additional term that will require landlords to comply with these new requirements.

The consultation seeks views on the specific timescales by which a social landlord will be required to respond to complaints of certain health and safety hazards. It asks for input on the following key issues:

  • Scope of hazards covered – The consultation proposes that all 29 health and safety hazards currently set out by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) should be included, which includes hazards such as damp and mould, domestic hygiene and pests, personal hygiene and sanitation, over-crowding, excessive noise, excess heat or cold etc.
  • Scope of risk – The consultation proposes including any of the HHSRS hazards that pose a significant risk to the health or safety of the actual resident of the dwelling. This could go beyond the current Decent Homes Standard requirement to be free from dangerous (Category 1) HHSRS hazards, as the needs of the individual resident would need to be taken into account.
  • Timescales for initial investigations of potential hazards – The consultation proposes 14 days from the complaint being made.
  • That investigations can be undertaken using photos and videos without a site visit unless specifically requested by a tenant.
  • The requirement that those conducting investigations hold the right skills and experience to determine whether there is a hazard, and if so, the level of risk to a resident’s health or safety. 
  • That residents will not be required to provide any medical evidence for an investigation.
  • The requirement to be placed upon landlords to provide written summaries of investigation findings within 48 hours of an investigation concluding.
  • Timescales for beginning repair works – The consultation proposes 7 days following the issue of the written investigation findings. Beginning works means a worker being on site physically starting to repair and rectify a hazard.
  • Timescales for completing repair works – The consultation proposes “within a reasonable period – meaning repairs should not be unreasonably delayed and evidence should be provided where delays to repairs are necessary” and that “Timescales for completing repairs should be proportionate to the scale of the repair and consider the needs of occupants”.
  • The definition of emergency repairs – The consultation proposes repairs that present “a significant and imminent risk of harm”. The consultation includes as examples, gas leaks, broken boilers, lack of water supply, electrical hazards such as exposed wiring, significant leaks, broken external doors or windows that present a risk to home security and prevalent damp and mould that is impacting a resident’s ability to breathe.
  • Timescales for completing emergency repairs – The consultation proposes as soon as practicable but, in any event, within 24 hours from the complaint being made.
  • The circumstances under which residents should be temporarily decanted to protect residents’ health and safety if emergency repairs cannot be made within 24 hours or other repairs cannot be started within 7 days and other steps to make the property safe are not possible.
  • Requirements to be placed upon landlords to maintain adequate record keeping throughout repair works.
  • The cost benefit analysis published at Annex B. The duty to make repairs to reported hazards is not a new requirement for landlords, and the analysis suggests the costs associated with the investigation and repair timescales are likely to be minimal, as the additional burden is the speed at which repairs need to be responded to, not the repairs themselves. DLUHC suggests the only additional are costs are those for familiarisation of staff with the new requirements and for providing written summaries of investigation findings to residents.

We encourage all social housing providers and anyone else that may be affected by the new requirements to review the consultation and respond directly using the DLUHC online survey or via email to socialhousingsafety@levellingup.gov.uk before Tuesday 5 March.

Those responding may wish to consider the following implications:

  • Complaints procedures / policies – including how complaints can be made, how they are prioritised and commitments to repairs
  • Communication channels with residents
  • Staff resourcing and training
  • Availability of competent contractors
  • Availability of supplies and materials
  • Access to properties
  • Availability of alternative properties if residents have to be temporarily decanted
  • Impact on existing contracts
  • Impact on any insurance
  • Impact on any funding arrangements and property valuations
  • Accuracy of records and data
  • Interaction with standards set by the Regulator of Social Housing or Housing Ombudsman
  • Cost of inspections and written summaries, and where funding will come from.

If you are a registered provider of social housing and would like further help and guidance, please contact
Neil Brand, Louise Mansfield or Katie Dyer. We regret that we are unable to provide legal advice to individual residents.

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