Are you looking forward to moving out of your current place? If yes, you must have options for new housing lined up. With the economic conditions of the present world, changing housing comes with a lot of financial and mental stress for the tenant.
The monthly rent, security Deposit, and advance payments often exceed the budget one can afford. Even if you somehow make ends meet and begin a new lease agreement, a hundred more problems are stressing you out. The majority of these are related to the landlord’s conduct.
Would he be helpful till the end of the lease? Could you trust him with the place’s electricity safety and Gas Safety? Would he look after the annual maintenance and inspections? Does he understand the class use order? And a lot more!
However, the government of the United Kingdom drafted the social housing white paper after carefully considering the relationship between a tenant and landlord. Therefore, before you begin your search for new accommodation, you must have substantial knowledge of the social housing white paper.
What is The Social Housing White Paper?
The social housing white paper is based on seven fundamental themes that emphasize the basic everyday life of tenants living in a rental property. The key focus of the paper is to rebalance the relationship shared by a landlord and a tenant.
The seven fundamental themes are as listed below:
- To be safe in your home
- To know how your landlord is performing
- To have your complaints dealt with promptly and fairly
- To be treated with respect, backed by a strong consumer regulator for tenants
- To have your voice heard by your landlord
- To have good quality home and neighbourhood to live in
- To be supported to take your first steps to ownership
When Was The Social Housing White Paper Published?
Comprised of 76 pages, the social housing white paper was issued by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government on 17 November 2022.
However, the history behind the development of this paper is quite tragic. In June 2017, one of the worst modern disasters the UK had ever witnessed took place: the Grenfell Tower fire.
Following this occurrence, the government reviewed the social housing sector by first reviewing fire laws. Also, this led the government to deduce five key themes, which were then published in the Social Housing Green paper for further discussion. After three years, the social housing white paper was finally published in 2020.
Importance of Social Housing White Paper in The Sector
The social housing white paper mainly addresses the concerns raised by the tenants who were treated poorly and often targeted by disrespect. It holds the landlord accountable for their actions. Thus, ensuring good treatment of the renters.
The previous green paper focused on ensuring safe homes, solving complaints, supporting home ownership, and strengthening both parties. These key points were further debated and discussed. The government then published the Social Housing White Paper. Hence, this paper was drafted for the betterment of both: the landlords and the tenants.
The paper stresses safety, performance monitoring, home ownership, and the importance of the resident voice. The rented place is subject to inspections made by the Regulator. Disobedience to any consumer standard can lead to multiple fines as well as a publication of the complete scenario.
The social housing white paper also advises the landlords to engage with the tenants and to reflect on their responsibility for their actions. Hence, it targets all possible horizons of the relationship shared by a landlord and their tenant.
The 7 Key Themes of The Social Housing White Paper
To be safe in your home
The social housing white paper presents a summary of the regulatory changes introduced by the government, including bills like the building safety bill and the fire safety bill.
It asks the landlords to place fire and carbon monoxide alarms in the rental property. It also reinforces electricity safety by stressing the inspections that must be carried out every five years. Similarly, the annual checks for gas safety are also made a priority.
The paper stresses the severity of the complications the landlords will face if the regulations stated in the paper are not appropriately met.
To know how your landlord is performing
This theme mainly focuses on holding the landlords accountable in case of any fatal occurrences. As per the social housing white paper, regardless of the type of tenancy, the tenants are legally right to receive as much information about their rental place and landlord as they require.
The tenants can review the landlord’s performance based on their engagement, repairs, building safety, and the management of the neighbourhood. If the tenant wishes to know the management cost, the landlord should be transparent about it too. If they want to see Proof of ownership or Property documents, the landlord should accommodate them.
Thus, it stresses accountability and transparency. The landlords must publish and upload any information a tenant needs to be satisfied with the landlord’s ‘performance.’ However, no particular format for this upload has been specified in the social housing white paper.
To have your complaints dealt with promptly and fairly
The social housing white paper gives the Housing Ombudsman significantly more power to hold landlords accountable in case of misconduct.
Hence, this measure ensures that when a resident makes a complaint, it is heard and acted upon by the provider. When things go wrong, the tenants now have easier and quicker access to the landlords.
The social housing white paper has also pointed toward a future awareness campaign to educate tenants about their rights, means of making a complaint, and any similar steps.
To be treated with respect, backed by a strong consumer regulator and improved consumer standards for tenants
Safety and satisfaction of the tenants are the main focus points of the social housing white paper.
The regulator will now make standard inspections of the properties of the largest providers every four years, keep an eye on the tenant (satisfaction) reviews, and take any necessary actions. Therefore, the landlord must work on his Property Planning more efficiently.
In addition, an advisory committee would be set up for each regulator to advise them regarding consumer and economic matters.
The regulators will ensure that the landlords comply with all the themes and consumer standards as stated in the social housing white paper. If they find anything doubtful, they have the right to carry out the required inspections.
As stated in the social housing white paper, the government may decide to proceed with its earlier suggestion of removing the serious detriment test. Then, the regulators will no longer have to wait until any serious harm is subjected to the tenant. However, a new standard will have to be created upon this removal to calculate the landlord’s compliance.
While this condition is quite favourable for the tenant, it would only be equally just for the providers when the consumer standards are detailed enough to ensure no accidental breaches will occur.
To have your voice heard by your landlord
The social housing white paper is centralized around protecting a tenant’s rights. Thus, it fully recognized the emotions of all concerned, worried, ignored, and mistreated tenants.
Landlords must hear the complaints forwarded by the tenants and take any required actions. The landlords will also have to prove how they have improved their engagement and relationship with the tenants. Regardless of the Letting type, all these themes apply to every person who practices Corporate let.
Residents are worthy of respect, courtesy, and good manners. Therefore, the conduct of a landlord should be based on the latter. The regulator will review his conduct and decide if he has sought the best practice.
The social housing white paper also pointed toward the inauguration of new programs focused on improving the engagement of both parties. The government will form a group to review professional training, development, and mental health awareness in front-line staff.
To have good quality home and neighbourhood to live in
According to the social housing white paper, the Decent Homes Standards would be reviewed by the autumn of 2021 to raise the quality of living and provide tenants with better homes.
The target of the review would be to improve the following areas:
- Energy efficiency
- Green spaces
- Communal space
This review will decide if the Decent Homes Standards from 2001 need to be updated.
The anti-social behaviour of a neighbourhood has to be tackled by the landlords. To do so, they will be assisted by the police and clarified by the government.
The social housing white paper also points out landlords will be expected to create policies dealing with domestic abuse cases. The regulator must make any amendments to its regulations to accommodate such policies.
The landlords should also monitor and protect any of their residents subject to drug dealing or country gangs. Lastly, the responsibility of a supportive neighbourhood for disabled people would also fall on them.
To be supported to take your first step to ownership
The social housing white paper focuses on expanding the availability of affordable homes so people can become independent easily.
Thus, this particular theme addresses the Affordable Homes Programme, which targets about 180,000 homes. It says that half of these constructions will be subject to affordable rents, while the other half will be subject to affordable home ownership.
The shared ownership model has also been redesigned. It now accommodates the tenant by allowing them to buy a 10% share in the place and resume shared ownership. 1% increments have been allowed too. For the first ten years of ownership, the responsibility for home repairs would also lie with the landlords.
Therefore, the tenants have full support from the government in the social housing white paper when they want to shift from paying rent to fully owning the place.
What is The Charter For Social Housing Residents?
The social housing white paper is called the charter for social housing residents. The main reason is the healthy reforms it has brought for the residents and the whole sector.
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What is The Concept of Social Housing?
Social housing refers to the accommodation provided to people at affordable rents. These accommodations are usually the properties of the state, councils, or housing societies that are non-profit organizations.
Usually, the renters are workers with low incomes or people with particular needs.
However, adults often move out of their parent’s place when they turn 18. They usually begin their housing journey by renting out a place. Unless they have massive savings, no 18-year-old can afford ownership of a property.
The basic concept of social housing is that when the private rental sector can not provide the required number of affordable housing, the government has to do so to make sure people with low incomes are taken care of.
The social housing white paper protects the rights of all the tenants who reside in social housing. It ensures that no landlords mistreat their tenants.
The Response of NHF to The Social Housing White Paper
The National Housing Federation was very welcoming of the key themes and suggestions brought by the social housing white paper.
The director of policy and research at the National Housing Federation – Catherine Ryder, says about the social housing white paper:
“It’s good to see the government invest an additional £300 million over the next three years into local health and care, with an emphasis on increasing the number of new supported homes. With demand for supported housing expected to increase by 125,000 homes in less than ten years, this extra money is a positive starting point in ensuring that some of the most vulnerable people have the support, access, and care they need at home.”
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Social housing is a concept appreciated by many. For people who barely make ends meet every month, the fact that their government is making efforts to improve their situation helps keep them motivated. Thus, they continue to strive for more.
In such circumstances, the social housing white paper is another relief source. In addition to affordable accommodation, they now have their rights protected by law and their safety guaranteed.
Thus, the social housing white paper is one of the most crucial steps taken by the United Kingdom’s government to ensure its nationals’ welfare.