Awaab's Law: A call to arms

June 6, 2024

by Kate Roberts, Switchee.

06 June 2024: The tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in 2020 stunned the nation. As a  direct result of prolonged mould exposure in his family’s rented social home, Awaab’s story made it clear that more needs to be done to avoid preventable death or injury from occurring again.   

In the ongoing battle against mould, the housing sector has fallen short to date. Many landlords across social housing rightly recognised that a paradigm shift was needed - one driven by innovation, empathy and foresight - to ensure healthy homes for all.  

Through the introduction of Awaab’s Law, the UK government has taken the necessary steps to ensure residents’ concerns are taken seriously and addressed. This landmark legislation, borne out of a distressing tragedy, represents the beginning of this change.   

Established in July 2023 under the Social Housing (Regulation) Act, Awaab's Law mandates social landlords to deal with reported health hazards - including damp and mould - promptly and within legislated time frames, documenting all actions and keeping residents informed.   

With clear guidelines for landlords and tenants provided by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), this legislation aims to simplify addressing damp and mould and other Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) hazards, empowering social housing providers to report before it is too late.  

However, I know from my own conversations with Switchee’s customers that the introduction of Awaab’s Law has sparked some concern amongst social housing landlords, particularly around resource allocation, legal ramifications, first-time access to residents’ homes, and the nature/complexity of the repairs required.   

While some have highlighted to me the pressure that they face to deliver the requirements within the strict timescales proposed by Awaab’s Law, my clear message back to them is always one of reassurance. Providers should see Awaab’s Law as an opportunity to be empowered to take action and drive long-term positive change.   

Most housing providers are actually in a position to deliver this effectively, it just requires a slight change in approach. It means recognising the importance of prioritising resident engagement. What this looks like in reality is always maintaining transparent communication, keeping accurate records, and providing clarity on the timescales for resolving issues in homes.   

By creating a resident-first approach, not only will it help produce stronger relationships between providers and residents that are built on trust, but it will also reduce the need for tenants to invoke Awaab’s Law through the court system.  

While the idea of Awaab’s Law can seem daunting to social housing providers especially as official timescales for implementation have not yet been announced, preparation can and should begin now.  

This preparation will not be cost-free. It will mean investing time and resources to engage with residents now, reviewing your customer journey and upskilling your internal teams. Being ready for the introduction of Awaab’s Law will also mean improving capabilities to handle new reporting requirements or legal preparations such as upgrading tenancy agreements.   

However, this is better than the cost of not investing, as it is clear that there will be severe repercussions for those providers who do not deliver on the law’s requirements – both from a financial and reputational perspective. While implementation may still feel far away for some landlords, there is a real risk in holding off preparation to a later date and having to quickly play catch-up, which could prove a costly error. 

When adopting this resident-first approach, providers will need to be flexible as residents’ trust in the system varies. Many housing providers will know from experience that while some residents are very engaged in the process, there are a significant number who are disengaged for a variety of reasons – it is critical that this more silent group is not forgotten.   

What is clear is that more traditional routes such as letters and phone calls make it hard to do this. This is why many social landlords are increasingly embracing new technologies and innovations to achieve the desired cut through with all residents.  

Switchee’s communications functionality is proving to be an effective solution for this. Our smart, in-home device, which is already being used by over 130 social housing providers, offers a means of two-way communications. This feature enables direct communication between residents and providers via an in-home display, which sees 88% of residents respond within the first 24 hours. It is making it easier for residents to report hazards in homes, and ensure they remain engaged every step of the way.  

Our Internet of Things (IoT) technology also goes beyond communication, offering a proactive and practical means for landlords to tackle damp and mould, with innovation at its heart. It allows housing providers to proactively monitor housing stock conditions. With Switchee’s real-time property data and actionable insights, the risk of mould is identified early on, driving social housing landlords to act before the presence of mould poses a threat to human life.   

What our technology shows is that landlords can take a proactive approach now to address hazards before Awaab’s Law comes into play. Many are already doing this, and welcome the positive impact that Switchee is having for engaging with residents and taking effective action on hazards, even on the very early signs of mould.   

The opportunity now is for the social housing sector to work together and collaborate with each other and partners like Switchee, so we can engage and support residents early on. By doing so, together we can ensure that social homes across the UK are mould-free, healthy and safe for residents to live in. 


Kate Roberts, Customer Success Director, Switchee

Kate has worked in the housing sector for over 15 years in variety of roles including front-line housing management, business intelligence, strategy, policy and research. Kate regularly advises housing executive teams on how to engage their customers and staff to shape their strategic direction through co-creation. She has led on several key research projects in the sector including DLUHC’s White Paper Baseline survey and the Social Housing Professionalisation Review, the Regulator of Social Housing’s In-Depth Assessment Review, BEIS Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Evaluation, and a review of the Scottish Housing Regulator’s regulatory framework in practice, on behalf of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations. Kate has spent the past few years supporting housing providers across the UK to strengthen their customer experience, customer engagement strategies and consumer standards compliance, becoming a leading voice in the sector on the Tenant Satisfaction Measures.

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