The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) recently published the Consumer Regulation Review 2020-21, setting out their approach to consumer regulation. The report includes case studies and outlines key issues and lessons learned.
The RSH’s objective is to promote a well-governed, viable and efficient social housing sector that is able to deliver homes meeting a range of needs. To achieve this, the RSH set four consumer standards: Home, Neighborhood and Community, Tenancy, Tenant Involvement and Empowerment. These standards are set so that housing associations can ensure that their organisation is delivering the right outcomes for their tenants.
The report includes case studies providing examples where weakness in service delivery have been identified, or a breach in standards occurred. Through their regulatory activity, the RSH have identified the following key themes and learning points:
- Health and safety compliance and managing risk. The ability to meet statutory health and safety requirements relies on housing associations having good quality data regarding their tenants and their stock. This improved the ability to identify risks and implement mitigations.
- Communication with tenants and understanding their needs. Understanding the diverse needs of tenants is a clear requirement under the consumer standards. The RSH found that registered providers have generally responded well to engaging with their tenants and adapted to address significant challenges over the course of the year.
- Continuous learning from complaints. A fundamental element for compliance rests with registered providers, their boards and councillors to be receptive to feedback from tenants. All providers should look to correct matters promptly and consider whether there is an indication of any wider issues or systematic failings.
- Complying with the standards and planning for the future. The Social Housing White Paper, Fire Safety Bill and the Building Safety Bill propose to strengthen consumer regulations, improve safety in buildings and ensure tenants feel safe in their home. Until legislation is implemented, the RSH will continue to regulate within their current role and mandate.
The Social Housing White Paper will enable the regulator to take a proactive approach to consumer regulation when enacted. Until then, registered providers are encouraged to consider what steps they can take now to prepare to implement the changes set out in the white paper.