RSH finds JRHT breached the Rent Standard

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has ruled that Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT) is not compliant with the rent standard after it wrongly classified some of its homes as supported housing.


The regulator found that JRHT ‘incorrectly assumed’ 89 of its housing units were supporting housing, which has resulted in the wrong amount of rent being charged to tenants.

In some cases, units have been charged incorrect rent since 2007.

See also >> Regulator launches probe into A2 Dominion

RSH identified two separate issues in relation to JRHT’s units designated as specialised supported housing (SSH).

In at least 61 cases, the SSH exception to the rent standard has been applied despite these units receiving public funding. This has resulted in these units being charged incorrect rent since 2017/18.

Secondly, the RSH found that 28 units were categorised as supported housing but have not provided a relevant support service since receiving SSH status, which resulted in the wrong rent being charged. 

The 2,600-home provider also self-referred to RSH, after identifying that it had previously set rents incorrectly for 400 fair rent tenancies, which determines the maximum rent a landlord can charge a regulated or secure tenant.

The maximum fair rent had been surpassed in at least 183 cases, as JRHT had not reviewed fair rent tenancies since 2008.

The housing trust is estimated to have overcharged £479,000 as a result of these issues.

RSH said JRHT accepts the regulatory findings and is working to resolve the issues, with a detailed review to assess the scale and nature of any other potential errors in rent-setting underway.

RSH added that JRHT has developed a plan to address the problems which includes creating a plan to reset the rents to the correct levels; reimbursing tenants; reviewing rents and service charges across all properties, developing new rent policies and procedures to reflect current requirements undertaking an internal audit review of rent setting and annual rent changes.

The regulator also announced that 30,000-home Midlands-based provider Citizen,as had its financial viability grade downgraded from ‘V1’ to ‘V2’. A ‘V2’ means a provider its compliant but ”needs to manage material risks to ensure continued compliance.”

The judgement said: ”Citizen has significantly accelerated the delivery of its energy efficiency programme, leading to increased investment in its existing homes.

“Delivering this alongside its ongoing development programme means that the business plan is funded by an increased level of indebtedness. “When set in the context of economic pressures including inflation and interest rates, this impacts on Citizen’s capacity to respond to adverse events.”

In response to the regulatory judgment, Chief financial officer at Citizen Housing, Gary Booth, said: “The Regulator for Social Housing has made it clear the driver for our regrade was our conscious decision to accelerate our retrofit improvement works on our existing homes to bring properties up to a minimum EPC C rating.

“We decided, with full support of our Board, to submit a significant bid for Wave 2 funding of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund last autumn and we were awarded £24m to contribute towards the £74m cost of the works. By the end of 2025, we will have carried out energy efficiency improvements to over 2,000 of our homes.

“These works will improve the energy efficiency of our customers’ homes ahead of the Government’s 2030 target and will follow our success from the funding we received in Wave 1 of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.”

Another provider, 5,300-home Cheshire Peaks & Plains Housing Trust, also had its financial viability grade downgraded from ‘V1’ to ‘V2’. 

The judgment states that Cheshire Peaks & Plains is significantly investing in existing stock and building new homes, which reduces interest cover and its capacity to respond to adverse events. However, RSH said that the provider has an adequately funded business plan.

Mark Howden, chief executive officer of Cheshire Peaks & Plains said: “We concur that the trust remains in a strong position in terms of governance and has an adequately funded business plan.

“Our viability rating, like many others across the sector, reflects the challenging environment we operate in and our clear strategic priority to continue to invest in our homes and services.”

For-profit provider Legal & General Affordable Homes has had its existing G1 grade for governance and V1 grade for financial viability confirmed.

Latest RSH regulatory judgements

ProviderGovernance ratingViability ratingExplanation
Aspire Housing G2 V2 Confirmation of existing grades
Citizen Housing Group G1 V2 Viability regrade - V1 to V2
Cheshire Peaks & Plains Housing Trust G1 V2 Viability regrade - V1 to V2
Irwell Valley Housing Association G1 V2 Changed basis for viability grade
Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust G1 V2 Economic Standards
Legal & General Affordable Homes G1 V1 Confirmation of existing grades
Onward Group G1 V2 Changed basis for viability grade