Social housing’s main goal is to provide a level of affordable accommodation to those who need it, and that the government must intervene to ensure that those on a low income can find a safe and clean place to live. Social housing landlords don’t just owe their tenants a duty to keep their properties in repair but they also have a responsibility for their social welfare, especially when concerns have been raised about their tenant’s welfare.
UK Social Landlords’ Responsibilities to their Tenants
A social landlord is a housing association or council that provides social housing in the UK. They have a duty to keep the property in a good state of repair as well as an ongoing responsibility for the tenant’s welfare. This means they must ensure that any concerns raised about the tenant are addressed and that the tenant is safe and healthy while residing at the property. From making sure the tenant can manage at home, to their general health and mental wellbeing, if concerns are raised, regarding the tenant or the property, a social landlord must act accordingly. Yet, this is not always the case!
If a social landlord is aware of any issues that may affect the tenant’s welfare, they must take immediate action to address them. This could include arranging for support services or referring the tenant to other agencies for help and support. If the landlord fails to act when they are made aware of an issue regarding their tenant, they could be in breach of their duty of care for failing to follow the National Safeguarding Guidelines. Although as housing disrepair solicitors in the UK, we are well aware of the number of social landlords who fail to provide their tenants with a well-maintained home and ignore their duty of care to tenants.
Social Housing Worst Cases
Sadly, a recent case was brought to light by Harriet Harman. In an article published on MailOnline, a 61-year-old woman passed away while in social housing in London, and yet was left lying on the floor of her flat for three years, despite neighbours complaining of a foul smell, flies, and maggots. When the remains of Sheila Seleoane were eventually found in her flat in Peckham, London, the property was infested with mice and cockroaches.
Residents had first issued a complaint to the social housing association Peabody about the smell coming from the flat in 2019. Yet two years of complaining did not force the social housing association to take action. It was only after three years that the police were forced to take action and force entry into the home.
As a result of this sheer neglect and emotionally distressing event for both Sheila Seleoane’s family, friends, and neighbours, MP Harriet Harman is calling for a full independent investigation into the incident.
Harriet Harman told MailOnline, ‘ I don’t understand how something like this can happen in a bustling area in this day and age. This is absolutely awful; this kind of thing should not happen. It’s awful for this woman, her family and the people living in this block.’
According to Harriet Harman, Peabody Housing Association claims that they were first contacted in October 2020, but residents are claiming that it was in 2019. It also appears that the women had rent arrears but was not paying these off, yet Peabody was receiving them from her benefits, despite having passed.
A spokesperson for Peabody said: ‘We are saddened to learn that our resident has passed away. Our dedicated Tenant and Family Support Team carry out regular welfare checks with people who may be vulnerable.
Read the full story here: Harriet Harman Slams Housing Association
Housing Disrepair Solicitors
If you are a social housing tenant and have concerns about the state of your property get in touch with one of our specialist solicitors. We can advise you on your rights as a social housing tenant and help you take action against your social landlord, especially in relation to housing disrepair. If you have concerns about the welfare of a neighbour please raise these concerns with the landlord in the first instance and if your concerns are ignored report the matter to Social Services or the Police by calling 101.