The Housing Act 1930 (20 & 21 George 5 c. 39), also known as the Greenwood Housing Act after the minister tasked with steering its passage through parliament, Arthur Greenwood, was a United Kingdom Act of Parliament intended to make it easier for local authorities to clear slum areas, and obliging them to rehome the tenants of such areas in more suitable accommodation.
The Act recognised two classes of slum dwellings:
- Those which are “not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation”, which the local authority could require the owner to repair, or if the owner refused, carry out the necessary work themselves and pass the cost on to the owner
- Those which are “in a state so dangerous or injurious to health as to be unfit for human habitation”, which were to be closed pending repairs or demolition.
Local authorities were also given the power to determine that all buildings within a specified area should be demolished, and to compulsorily purchase such properties if necessary.[a]The Artisans’ and Labourers’ Dwellings Act of 1875 had already allowed local authorities to compulsorily purchase slum properties, but few had taken advantage of the opportunity. The Act led to the mass demolition of back-to-back housingForm of terraced houses in the United Kingdom, each sharing party walls on three of their four sides., a cheap form of terraced house for the working poor, designed to maximise the number of workers living in the least possible space.
The legislation was passed into law under the premiership of Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour prime minister. But under the subsequent coalition National Government formed in 1931, dominated by the Conservatives, policy switched from building new houses to the construction of cheaper blocks of flats to accommodate former slum dwellers. Nevertheless the Act led to a record number of slum clearances, and the construction of 700,000 new homes.