The new regulations housing providers must adhere to were implemented yesterday

The regulator of social housing’s four revised consumer standards came into effect on 1 April, alongside its new powers to proactively regulate housing providers using new enforcement tools.

WALTERS Jonathan (960)

Source: Regulator of Social Housing

The Social Housing Regulation Act, passed in July 2023, has reintroduced a proactive approach to regulating social landlords.

The new consumer regulation regime now means that housing providers that own more than 1,000 homes will receive inspection visits from the regulator at least once every four years.

Following these inspections, registered providers will receive new ‘C’ gradings based on their performance against the consumer standards, as well as updated financial viability and governance gradings. 

In an exclusive interview with Housing Today last month, Jonathan Walters, deputy chief executive at the Regulator of Social Housing, referred to the new consumer standards as “an evolution not a revolution”, adding that “they take a lot of similar themes” from the previous consumer standards introduced in 2010, and move them on.

The regulator will require social housing providers to prepare performance improvement plans.

The regulator now has enhanced powers to arrange for an authorised person to take emergency remedial action where there is an imminent risk of serious harm to the health or safety of the occupants of those premises or other properties.

It will also now be able to issue unlimited fines to providers that fail to meet the standards, which were previously capped at £5,000.

>> See also: Evolution or revolution? What the Regulator of Social Housing’s new consumer standards mean for RPs

>> See also: Local authority self-refers to the regulator for potential consumer standards breach

Walters explained that fines will be used “when they’re the right tool to put a problem right”. He added that “if a provider is willing and able to put a problem right we’d much rather that they get on and start putting things right”.

Through Awaab’s law, which is currently being consulted on, registered providers will be required to make repairs on emergency hazards including damp and mould within 24 hours.

The regulator will also proactively enforce Awaab’s law once it comes into effect.

In the new guidance published by the regulator today, it outlines how to make a referral to the regulator’s referrals and regulatory enquiries team.

The regulator receives referrals from different sources, including from tenants, shared owners, local councillors or MPs, and employees of landlords.

The guidance also states that if a registered provider believes a decision taken by the regulator to use its powers is “irrational or illegal”, for example if the regulator fails to take into account relevant information made available to it, it can appeal.

The four new standards are as follows:

Safety and Quality Standard: 

  • Registered providers are required to adhere to the requirements of this standard to ensure the safety and quality of their homes, and wellbeing of tenants.
  • RPs must have detailed records at an individual property level of all of their homes, using the data to ensure compliance with health and safety requirements and the decent homes standard, carry out repairs and maintenance and appropriately allocate homes.

Transparency, Influence and Accountability Standard:

  • This standard requires landlords to be open with tenants and treat them with fairness and respect. Tenants have a right to access services, raise complaints where needed and influence decision-making.
  • Housing providers must have a specific person who is responsible for dealing with the consumer standards. 
  • RPs are required to maintain effective communication with tenants, for example during repairs and maintenance processes, they must keep tenants updated throughout.

Neighbourhood and Community Standard:

  • The key objective of this standard is for RPs to manage neighbourhoods effectively and create a sense of community.
  • Landlords must keep the neighbourhood and communal areas associated with the homes they own clean and safe, even if they do not own these communal areas. 
  • This means registered providers must co-operate with relevant partners to promote social, environmental and economic wellbeing in the areas where they provide social housing. 

Tenancy Standard:

  • This standard sets expectations to ensure social landlords fairly allocate and let homes, and includes requirements around how tenancies are managed and ended by landlords.
  • The focus of the revised version of the standard is on registered providers supporting tenants all the way from allocation to the end of their tenancy.
  • When it comes to the end of a tenancy, registered providers must provide tenants with advice and assistance.