Local housing authorities

January 2013

What do local housing authorities do?

A decent standard of housing is an essential part of children’s health, safety and wellbeing. Inequalities in local housing conditions and the physical environment can have a serious impact on injury rates and are recognised as key poverty measures and public health concerns. Particular issues for young children especially relate to lack of space and overcrowding, poor and unsafe facilities, equipment, and appliances, and the specific risks associated with high-rise buildings and housing converted into multiple occupancy flats.

Local housing teams are therefore important partners in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children and families, and it is essential to ensure that housing colleagues are aware of, and involved in the development and delivery of local child injury prevention strategies.

Housing authorities are responsible for managing the delivery of safe, affordable housing in local areas through their involvement in:

  • Building control and regulation – including management of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System
  • Tenancy management e.g. collection of rent, repairing property damage, making improvements and using tenant groups and networks to increase awareness of safety and other issues
  • Tackling overcrowding and anti-social behaviour on estates
  • Consulting with residents on possible improvements to the area

What is their role in child accident prevention?

On a basic level, local housing authorities are tasked with ensuring that all homes meet a minimum living standard:

  • The ‘Decent Home’ standard – which includes provisions for the safety of tenants.
  • The ‘Right to Repair’ Scheme is designed to ensure that council tenants can get certain repairs completed quickly and easily, which could include a range of unsafe fittings. See Shelter’s website for more information.
  • As well as a duty to keep tenants safe, housing associations also have a valuable relationship with communities, which can be useful in disseminating information and education about child safety. Research by the Chartered Institute of Housing has highlighted the benefits of housing authorities and housing professionals working in partnership with other organisations, particularly schools and Children’s Trusts. 

More about housing and safety

Updated June 2013