What is Awaab’s Law?

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What is Awaab’s Law?

The Labour manifesto stated explicitly that they would implement “Awaab’s Law” in the private rented sector. But what is Awaab’s Law and what does it require?

Awaab’s Law is named after Awaab Ishak, who tragically died in a social-rented home after health problems caused by excessive damp and mould in the property. The landlord had dismissed complaints from the tenants, suggesting that the problems were being caused by the tenant’s own use of the property.

The outcome of this was the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 which, among other things, allowed for regulations to made to insert a provision automatically into tenancy agreements specifying a time period for investigations to take place and remedies to be made in relation to tenant complaints of damp and mould. This was intended to operate rather like s11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which deals with repairing obligations. That, too, operates by inserting provisions in all tenancy agreements on an implied basis. These type of provisions allow for tenants to seek damages for breach of contract if they are not fulfilled but they do not allow for any more direct enforcement than that.

A consultation on the exact form of the regulations had recently concluded just before the general election was called and so the outcome of that consultation is now for the new government to decide. Presumably, they will want to press on with implementing these provisions for social landlords.

To bring this into the private sector, further new legislation will be needed. This is likely to be a priority item for the new Labour government. This may be by inserting a further provision into a new version of the Renters (Reform) Bill if that comes back in a similar form to its final version before the election. Alternatively it might be found in a small bill that just deals with s21 and this in order to meet manifesto commitments with other changes left until later. Presumably the structure of that will work in a similar way to the proposals for the social sector with a new obligation implied into tenancy agreements. Alternatively, if more substantive enforcement is desired then it would be possible to require local authorities to handle this, although that is simply giving them yet another role to deal with on top of their many other commitments. The other possibility would be to allow tenants to seek a rent repayment order for a breach but that is little different from them seeking damages and only makes the process a little bit easier.

Whether this really makes a difference is uncertain. Good landlords will already seek to deal with damp and mould and this will certainly bring it more directly to their attention and increase the priority they give to the issue. Bad landlords, who are more of the problem, will likely continue much as they did before.

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