Historically the control of housing conditions was based upon a concern for the health of the community and was safeguarded by the enforced repair and improvement of substandard property. In the United Kingdom the high cost of repair eventually induced a policy based upon subsidy to both home owners and private landlords as the price of healthier housing. This paper outlines the process by which the legislative standards invoked to protect health were modified to distribute subsidy. In 1989 the standards are poised to become criteria for the measurement of poverty rather than the identification of unhealthy housing conditions. In this process the protection of public health is being overlooked. There is strong evidence to suggest that the health of occupiers is at risk from modern and traditional housing hazards. Unless health is readopted as a concern of housing policy, the regulatory response needs radical rethinking.

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