Social Housing Reform Update

The Government’s 2020 social housing white paper, The Charter for Social Housing Residents, set out a series of measures aimed at delivering ‘transformational change’ for social housing residents. The measures focus on improving the quality of social housing by making social landlords more accountable for the standard of their accommodation, and empowering residents via better regulation and improvements to the complaints and redress process.

According to the Government, the Charter was well received by tenants, social landlords and the housing sector. However, concerns were raised about certain elements, including frustration over the slow pace of social housing reform, issues regarding the supply of homes for social rent, confusion over the ultimate purpose of social housing, the failure to address the stigma attached to social tenants (given the Government’s strong focus on home ownership), and the challenges social landlords could face in meeting the new requirements.

Following further consultation regarding delivery of the proposals with experts from across the sector and social housing residents, the Social Housing Regulation Bill 2023 is currently passing through Parliament. The Bill is intended to regulate social housing and establishes the legal basis for many of the proposed reforms, particularly by setting up new approved schemes for investigating complaints about social housing from tenants.

Apart from improving the consumer regulation regime, the Bill’s other core objectives are to modify the existing economic regulatory regime, and strengthen the Regulator of Social Housing’s powers to enforce both regimes. Further provisions include empowering the Housing Ombudsman to issue a code of practice for complaint handling and monitoring compliance, as well as formalising and enhancing the relationship between the Regulator and the Ombudsman.

Six years after the Grenfell Tower fire provided the impetus for reform in the social housing sector, the Social Housing Regulation Bill 2023 will finally provide concrete improvements to the legal rights of social housing tenants, and make landlords more responsible for providing decent and safe housing. While the proof will be in the delivery, this is at least welcome news for tenants living in England’s four million social homes.

Find out more about taking legal action against housing associations for disrepair and personal injury:

Bed Bug Outbreak to Hit UK?

There is mounting concern that the recent and extensive bed bug outbreak in Paris and other French cities will spread across the channel, if it hasn’t already, with one major UK hotel chain reportedly asking new guests whether they have travelled from France, and if so, organising a deep clean of their room when they leave.

Hotels across the country are preparing to deploy pest control experts with sniffer dogs that can detect the insects to combat the potential bed bug invasion, and guests should carefully check their room on arrival for the presence of these resilient parasitic insects. The first place to look is under the bed sheets and on the bed frame, and it is advisable to strip a hotel room as far as possible, as bed bugs can be present in various places including mattresses, carpets and other furnishings.

Apart from hotels, bed bugs have been spotted in multiple other public spaces in Paris, with phone footage capturing their presence on buses, trains, and in hospitals, GP surgeries, schools, workplaces, shops and cinemas, among other places. Several French schools have been forced to close temporarily after becoming infested with bed bugs, while public transport services are routinely deep cleaned and disinfected.

France appears to be overwhelmed by the bed bug ‘invasion’, with city residents dumping mattresses in the streets, burning bed linen and luggage, and even evacuating their homes. Pest control companies in the UK report being ‘snowed under’ with bed bug callouts, while Transport for London has started to disinfect seats on a daily basis after a widespread outbreak on the Paris Metro.

One problem is that getting rid of a bed bug infestation can be a lengthy and complicated process, particularly now that modern bed bugs have evolved and developed resistance to chemicals in the insecticides traditionally used to eradicate them. Until new insecticides are developed, bed bug infestations will continue to be difficult to deal with, including the stress and toll they can take on a person’s mental health.

If you or your children have been bitten by bed bugs, contact Bartletts Solicitors for free legal advice and to claim compensation for the physical injury, associated mental trauma and financial repercussions:

E-Scooter Collisions Rise Moderately

A recent Department for Transport factsheet reported on the main trends in collisions involving e-scooters in 2022, and the casualties involved. The report is based on final data for 2022, as supplied by police forces up to the end of August 2023. Interestingly, after an upsurge in e-scooter collisions and the resulting injuries in 2021, the number of reported collisions and casualties only increased moderately in 2022.

The number of collisions involving e-scooters rose from 1,352 to 1,402 year on year, while the number of casualties increased from 1,434 to 1,492. The report’s best estimate (after being adjusted for changes in the way the police report e-scooter collisions) is that 440 people were seriously injured in e-scooter collisions in 2022, compared to 418 in 2021, while 1,040 were slightly injured, up from 1,006 the year before.

Out of the 12 people killed in collisions involving e-scooters in 2022 (compared to 10 in the previous year), 11 were e-scooter riders, which indicates why the government classifies e-scooter users as one of the most vulnerable road user groups. After e-scooter users themselves, pedestrians and cyclists were the two types of road user that were most involved in collisions with e-scooters and injured as a result, with 233 pedestrians and 50 pedal cyclists reported seriously or slightly injured in 2022.

The number of reported casualties in collisions involving e-scooters has been on a broadly upward trend over the last few years, while the number of e-scooter users has grown rapidly following the coronavirus lockdowns. The popularity of e-scooters as a transport method, and the possible legalisation of private e-scooter use on public roads in the near future, mean that both the number of collisions involving e-scooters and the resulting casualties are unlikely to fall in the near future.

Despite this, the moderate year-on-year growth in collisions and injuries in 2022 offers hope that both e-scooter users, pedestrians, cyclists and other road users are becoming increasingly accustomed to the sight of e-scooters in UK roads, and that this familiarity will result in less e-scooter accidents and injuries. You can find our more about collisions involving e-scooters and who is legally responsible on our dedicated page: