Local authorities ill-prepared to protect the health and safety of vulnerable tenants

Posted: 14/06/11

A report released yesterday highlights how many housing authorities are not well prepared to protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable tenants at a time when residents need that protect more than ever.

At a time of massive change in the housing sector it is critical that safeguards are in place to protect tenants. The Housing Act 2004 gives local authority provisions to enable them to do this but many do not seem to be making full use of them. Of concern is the apparent lack of a strategic approach to unhealthy housing and the absence of information on hazards.

In addition, changes to Housing Benefit rules and cuts to public funding for legal action under the Landlord and Tenant Act and lack of security, risk placing some of the most vulnerable tenants in the worst housing conditions. Many landlords offer excellent services, but there will be a need for better control of the more unscrupulous parts of the private rented sector. Yet, what the report shows is that many local housing authorities have not developed effective strategies and cuts could reduce even further their ability to protect tenants - but who else can the vulnerable turn to?