The Regulator of Social Housing has published its annual report, following a review of cases investigated in 2019/2020. The report focuses on the consumer standards which cover: Home; Neighbourhood and Community; Tenancy and Tenant Involvement and Empowerment. These standards are regulated reactively, unlike the economic standards.
Breach of the consumer standards is deemed where there is a finding of ‘serious detriment’. This is where harm, or potential harm is caused to tenants. This year there have been 15 findings of ‘serious detriment’ and for the first time there was a breach of the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment standard due to lack of consultation, notably where there were potentially vulnerable tenants.
It was noted that there were particular issues around social housing providers and local authorities not fully understanding their duties in relation to health and safety under the Home Standard. Accordingly it was highlighted that arrangements for housing management services to be delivered by third parties does not remove responsibility for compliance from the housing provider.
Key lessons noted for social housing providers were:
- Health and safety obligations need to be met. The Regulator noted the good progress in the sector on gas compliance, but noted that there were still some issues around electrical, fire and asbestos.
- Compliance must be evidenced. Robust reporting and governance is required.
- Good quality data and effective systems are required to support effective compliance with the consumer standards.
- Tenants must be treated with fairness and respect, including those occupying under shared ownership.
- Social housing providers must be transparent in their approach to co-regulation with the Regulator
Emphasis is put on providers reviewing cases where problems have occurred and learning lessons, in addition to assessing complaints trends over a period of time. The Board and local councillors are highlighted as responsible for ensuring arrangements are in place to deliver compliance with the Standards, and reminded of the requirement to take action if they do not obtain sufficient assurance.
“How an organisation takes account of its tenants’ needs, and how it interacts with tenants, is a key indication of organisational culture, and it speaks to why registered providers exist and their purpose.”