New Government ads to encourage complaints about ‘rogue landlords’
ocial housing tenants will be urged to complain about shoddy and dangerous housing in a major new Government advertising campaign.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove said the campaign, which will encourage tenants to voice complaints first to landlords and then to the Housing Ombudsman if necessary, will “shine a light” on rogue landlords.
The new focus on substandard housing comes after an outcry following the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould in his home.
We are shining a light on rogue landlords that ignore their tenants time and again and allow families to live in disrepair
The Government has since put forward Awaab’s Law, which requires landlords to fix reported hazards in social housing, such as mould, in a “timely fashion” or rehouse tenants in safe accommodation.
“Too many social housing tenants are being let down and ignored. This government is determined to stand up for them and give them a proper voice. They deserve a decent, safe and secure home, just like everybody else,” Mr Gove said.
“So we are shining a light on rogue landlords that ignore their tenants time and again and allow families to live in disrepair.
“This campaign will make sure tenants know their rights and how to make a complaint – giving them the confidence to go to the Ombudsman and ensure action is taken.”
The adverts will run across England from Monday until the end of April, with images of black mould and leaking ceilings used as part of the campaign.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said that adverts would be aired on dozens of commercial radio stations, as well as on stations broadcasting in Arabic, Polish, Bengali and other languages.
Users of apps and platforms such as Spotify, Amazon Music and Nextdoor will also see and hear the ads.
Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway said: “Effective complaint handling starts with landlords getting things right first time.
“If and when things do go wrong, landlords must fix the issue, apologise, offer appropriate compensation, and show they have learned from those errors.
“If that doesn’t happen then residents can take their complaint to us at the Housing Ombudsman. We’re free, independent and impartial in order to help residents and landlords find a resolution to their complaint.”
The Government has said that the new campaign will also fund training for Citizens’ Advice staff in two pilot areas of London and the north west to support local residents.
The Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, which is on the verge of becoming law, contains plans to strengthen social housing regulation – including new powers to issue unlimited fines to landlords who fail to meet standards.
Labour’s Lisa Nandy said: “It is scandalous that anybody has to live in mouldy, damp housing. Measures to treat social housing tenants with more respect are long overdue.”
“But a decade of decay and drift has left us with a chronic lack of social housing. Tenants facing rent hikes in just a few weeks without the prospect of better standards need more than the relaunch of an old campaign,” the shadow housing secretary added.