UK Association of Mould Experts

Housing Secretary Michael Gove Urges Social Housing Tenants to Complain About Substandard Housing

The UK government has launched the ‘Make Things Right’ advertising campaign to encourage social housing tenants to speak up about substandard housing conditions. Spearheaded by Housing Secretary Michael Gove, the campaign aims to give residents a proper voice and ensure they receive decent, safe, and secure homes. Tenants are being urged to make a complaint to their landlord in the first instance and escalate to the Housing Ombudsman if they are not satisfied with the response.

The ‘Make Things Right’ campaign will run across England until the end of April, featuring advertisements with images of black mould and leaking ceilings across social media platforms, radio stations, and streaming platforms in over six languages. The advertisements will also be targeted at social housing residents on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and NextDoor.

Additionally, the campaign will fund training in two pilot areas, London and the North West, so that they can support more residents who have issues in their homes. This initiative is part of the government’s continued efforts to protect tenants in social housing, including time limits for landlords to investigate and fix damp and mould under Awaab’s Law and mandatory qualifications for social housing managers to ensure residents receive a quality service.

The campaign’s launch comes after a severe maladministration finding from the Housing Ombudsman earlier this month, calling for radical improvements in damp and mould and complaint handling at Lambeth Council. The Housing Secretary has demanded answers from Lambeth Council about its failure to handle complaints, following a special report into Lambeth published last year.

Findings from the government’s social housing resident panel showed that 65% of members said their experiences of raising complaints with their landlord had been unsatisfactory. Some of the key issues residents raised include the time taken for complaints to be addressed and resolved, disrespectful conduct, lack of communication, or inaccuracy of information experienced during previous complaints process, lack of repercussions for landlords if residents are not taken seriously or complaints are not resolved satisfactorily, and the burden and complexity of the complaints process.

Since October 2022, residents have been able to take complaints directly to the Housing Ombudsman without having to go to their MP or local councillor first and wait eight weeks after completing the landlord’s process.

The ‘Make Things Right’ campaign aims to empower social housing tenants to make complaints, giving them confidence in the complaints process and ensuring action is taken. The Housing Ombudsman has also stressed that effective complaint handling starts with landlords getting things right first time, fixing the issue, apologising, offering appropriate compensation, and showing they have learnt from those errors. If this does not happen, residents can take their complaint to the Housing Ombudsman for free, independent, and impartial resolution.

The landmark Social Housing (Regulation) Bill is also set to strengthen the powers of the Regulator, allowing it to enter properties with only 48 hours’ notice, make emergency repairs with landlords footing the bill, and issue unlimited fines to failing landlords.

Jo Powell, an accredited member of The UK Association of Mould Experts and owner of Mould Management, commented on the ‘Make Things Right’ campaign, saying, “It’s vital that social housing residents are given the support and resources they need to address issues such as mould and damp, which can have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. The government’s investment in training and awareness-raising is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to ensure that landlords are held accountable and that issues are resolved quickly and effectively. I hope that this campaign will encourage more residents to speak up and make complaints, and that the government will continue to take robust action to improve the quality of social housing across the UK.”

In conclusion, the ‘Make Things Right’ campaign is a significant step towards ensuring social housing tenants receive the quality service and safe living conditions they deserve. By empowering tenants to speak up and raising awareness of their rights, the government is taking decisive action to protect vulnerable communities and hold rogue landlords accountable for their actions.

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