Research

Critical perspectives research led teaching


Health and Safety at Home

Professor Helen Carr, Dr Ed Kirton-Darling and Professor David Cowan and Ed Burtonshaw-Gunn

Full report here.

Professor Helen Carr and Dr Ed Kirton-Darling of KLS, along with Professor David Cowan and Ed Burtonshaw-Gunn of Bristol were commissioned by Shelter to examine the gaps in Law exposed by the fire at Grenfell Tower. They found that law relating to health and safety in people's homes is piecemeal, out-dated, complex , dependent upon tenure, and patchily enforced. It makes obscure distinctions, which have little relationship with everyday experiences of poor conditions. Tenants wanting to remedy defects face numerous and often insurmountable barriers to justice. The law needs to evolve; no longer should occupiers be treated as posing health and safety risks, instead they should be treated as consumers of housing with enforceable rights to ensure minimum standards are adhered to. The state needs to accept its role as the primary enforcer of those standards.

Not only does the law require reform, there also needs to be a cultural change, so that those responsible for the health and safety of occupiers become pro-active in fulfilling those responsibilities.

We recommend a new Housing (Health and Safety in the Home) Act which is tenure neutral, modern and relevant to contemporary health and safety issues, and which encourages and provides resources for pro-activity by statutory authorities. In particular, the Act should

  • Strengthen duties on local authorities to review housing and enforce housing health and safety standards
  • Introduce a legal duty to review and update all guidance relating to health and safety in the home every three years
  • Provide routes for occupiers to require local authorities to carry out housing health and safety assessments
  • Remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing enforcement action being taken against local authority landlords and remove unnecessary procedural barriers which undermine the current regime
  • Consolidate and up-date existing law
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Last Updated: 23/11/2017