The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has published the Consumer Regulation Review 2021-22 setting out their approach to consumer regulation. The report includes case studies and outlines key issues and lessons learned.
RSH’s purpose is to regulate registered providers of social housing to promote a well-governed social housing sector able to deliver homes that meet a range of needs. The regulator’s fundamental objectives include delivering against economic and consumer regulations ensuring that social housing providers are financially viable and social housing is well-managed and of appropriate quality.
Through their consumer regulation work, RSH have identified key themes and learning outline below:
- Governance and leadership - Good governance and leadership are vital to providing good quality services. The link between the two has been a consistent theme over the last decade, but is more apparent this year. Non-compliance decisions made this year included failures in establishing appropriate oversight to ensure tenants received quality homes and services.
- Engagement with tenants - This year, a local authority was found to have failed to treat its tenants with fairness and respect, and in other cases, there were failures to respond to tenants’ concerns. RSH stress that effective engagement with tenants will help landlords prepare for proactive consumer regulation.
- Quality accommodation - RSH found systematic failings in repairs and maintenance services resulting in tenants living in properties severely affected by damp or mould. Furthermore, in all of the regulatory notices published this year, providers had breached the Home Standard due to not meeting legal requirements on fire, electrical, water, asbestos or lift safety.
- Data and compliance
This year the RSH received several self-referrals from providers due to uncertainties over completing required health and safety checks as a result of unreliable data. In some cases, mergers presented practical challenges as providers did not have clear oversight of legacy data management systems.
Recommendations to housing providers
- To review compliance and service delivery to gain assurances about how services are being delivered.
- Ahead of new legislation, providers are encouraged to ensure they have the culture, systems and processes in place to enable them to deliver good outcomes for tenants.
- Providers must ensure they have effective processes to ensure homes are safe and maintained to a good standard and ensure tenants know how to report issues with their home.
- For providers to have accurate, complete and reliable data to ensure they are meeting all relevant legal health and safety requirements.
Currently, the RSH regulate the consumer standards on a reactive basis however, the Social Housing Regulation Bill recently introduced in Parliament will bring forward a more proactive consumer regime. This will extend the regulator's role from a reactive to a proactive one and enable the regulator to seek reassurances on how well providers are meeting the consumer standards. We encourage our members to continue to review and put in place mechanisms that will facilitate the effective implementation of the proactive consumer regime.