Britain’s Housing Laws In Wake Of Grenfell ‘Inadequate’, Report finds

Britain’s “inadequate” and “outdated” housing laws are failing to prioritise tenant safety, a damning report commissioned by Shelter has found.

Current provisions are “piecemeal”, according to the research conducted by the Universities of Bristol and Kent, with 85 per cent of the housing experts surveyed criticising current legislation as unfit for purpose.

The report, “Closing The Gaps: Health And Safety In Housing”, was commissioned by the housing charity in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in June that killed at least 80 people.

Shelter said the failings highlighted were likely to have contributed to the high-rise blaze.

“The laws which are meant to protect people in their homes are inadequate and outdated, stretching back to the Victorian times,” said Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate.

“They’ve failed so catastrophically that those living in social housing are no longer safe.

“And while the Grenfell inquiry is ongoing, our review shows these lax laws likely played a part in the tragedy.”

Authors said a lack of coherence between housing and health and safety had created “competing alternative rationales”.

The report also said local authorities were struggling to find the right regulatory balance between improving housing standards and placing “unnecessarily burdensome” demands on landlords.

The review also noted a lack of legal aid has lessened tenants’ ability to challenge defects, while the threat of retaliatory evictions has meant private tenants are less likely to speak up.

Researchers also found that much housing law was divorced from practical reality, making “obscure distinctions, which have little relationship with the everyday experiences of poor conditions”.

Co-author David Cowan said the fact that there was no easy answer to the question of who had responsibility for a front door “absolutely epitomises all of the problems in the law”.

“It’s shocking, it’s concerning, it’s ludicrous, ridiculous and dangerous,” he said.

“I’ve been an academic for 26 years, a professor for 14, and I tried to read the building regulations.

“I’ve got no idea. I don’t understand them.

“I’ll hold my hands up and say, despite my many years of being in academia…I don’t understand them. That’s just outrageous isn’t it?”

Researchers surveyed just under a thousand renters, home owners, landlords, and housing lawyers online between August and September.

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