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Local authority duty to keep housing conditions under review

This content applies to England

A local housing authority has a duty to keep the housing conditions in its area under review. In doing so, it may identify that other duties to inspect particular properties or deal with particular issues are engaged.

Duty to keep housing conditions under review

A local housing authority must keep the housing conditions in its area under review with a view to identifying any action that may need to be taken under:[1]

Directions

The Secretary of State has the power to issue directions to local authorities with respect to their duty to keep housing conditions under review, which authorities must comply with.[2] For example, the authorities may be directed to carry out reviews in respect of particular hazards, consider particular advice in the review and notify the Secretary of State of any actions identified as necessary.

Fire safety reviews: cladding

In response to the fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) wrote to local authority chief executives stating that the department 'will be following up... the extent to which you have been able to identify buildings' with similar cladding and asking 'for updates on the progress of any necessary remedial actions taken by building owners'.[3]

In May 2018, the Secretary of State issued a direction requiring that authorities:[4]

  • take particular regard of government advice and the view of MHCLG's expert panel that certain types of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) insulation presented a significant fire hazard on buildings over 18 metres when reviewing conditions in their area[5]
  • take appropriate steps to identify and notify MHCLG of all high-rise residential buildings of over 18 metres in their area with a view to identifying actions necessary in accordance with their duties
  • carry out a review to consider any fire safety hazards arising out of potentially unsafe ACM cladding on high-rise buildings.

Where a possible hazard is identified in the review, it may be necessary for a local authority to carry out an inspection under the health and safety rating system (HHSRS). For specific information about how inspections are carried out and assessments made in relation to fire risk see Health and safety rating system (fire safety).

The government has also published (in August 2017) Grenfell Tower fire: Response and tackling fire risk in high rise blocks. This contains information on the number of blocks likely to be affected by unsafe cladding.

[1] s.3(1) and s.3(2) Housing Act 2004.

[2] s.3(3) Housing Act 2004.

[3] Letter from Sajid Javid, Secretary of State, MHCLG to local authority chief executives, 11 August 2017.

[4] Direction made by the Secretary of State under section 3(3) Housing Act 2004 to all local housing authorities in England, 17 May 2018.

[5] The advice referred to is in an MHCLG advice note MHCLG/BSP/Advice Note/11/280218.

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