Our Letter to Michael Gove MP: Call to Action on Unsafe Housing Conditions

At South West London Law Centres (SWLLC), we believe that everyone deserves safe, secure, and healthy housing. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many people in the UK, and poor housing conditions continue to be a significant problem.

That’s why we recently wrote to Michael Gove MP for Surrey Heath, (Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) urging the government to reconsider its position on the Housing Ombudsman and to engage with housing experts to address the issue of poor housing conditions for tenants.

Our letter highlights concerns that increasing the regulatory powers of the Housing Ombudsman will be largely ineffective unless tenants have access to specialist advocacy and support. We argue that the recommendations focus too heavily on alternative dispute resolution and that tenants need to be able to take legal action against their landlord, including at a court hearing where necessary.

We also note that the existing system is inadequate, as demonstrated by the significant increase in poor housing condition issues since disrepair was removed from the scope of Legal Aid. The market has not adapted to the removal of legal aid, as post-event insurance-based claims and conditional fee agreements have proven ineffective.

We cite the example of Awaab Ishak’s family, who campaigned for the introduction of Awaab’s Law. The law is needed as hundreds of thousands of households continue to live in properties that are not fit for habitation and that are causing or exacerbating serious health issues. Barrister Christian Weaver, who acted for Awaab Ishak’s family, stated that “those living in poor quality housing should have ready access to legal aid. Landlords knowing their tenants can enforce their legal rights is the only way in which tenants’ concerns will be treated with the importance they deserve.”

At SWLLC, we urge the government to engage with housing experts to address this issue properly, rather than turning to the Housing Ombudsman as a panacea. Our letter also requests a meeting with government officials to discuss these concerns and find solutions to the problem.

We believe that this is an issue of national importance. Poor housing conditions affect hundreds of thousands of people across the country, and it is essential that action is taken to ensure that tenants can access the legal remedies they need to address these issues. We will continue to advocate for tenants’ rights and to call for action on this critical issue.

We encourage you to read the letter we wrote to Michael Gove in full, as it outlines important concerns and offers potential solutions to address the issue of poor housing conditions for tenants. You can read the letter HERE.

If you have concerns about your housing conditions, please get in touch with us at SWLLC. We provide free legal advice and representation to people facing housing issues and can help you understand your rights and the remedies available to you.