RSH publishes details of new standards as it takes on more consumer regulation

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has published details of four new proposed standards as it prepares to take on a bigger consumer role.

In a consultation paper issued today, RSH published proposed standards for safety and quality, transparency, influence and accountability, neighbourhood and community and tenancy.

Under the RSH’s new safety and quality standard, all housing associations, for-profit providers and stock-holding councils “must have an accurate record at an individual property level of the condition of their stock, based on a physical assessment of all homes, and keep this up to date”.

RSH is proposing four new consumer standards, replacing existing standards. 

RSH is proposing four new consumer standards:

According to the RSH:

  • The Safety and Quality Standard will require landlords to provide safe and good-quality homes for their tenants, along with good-quality landlord services.
  • The Transparency, Influence and Accountability Standard will require landlords to be open with tenants and treat them with fairness and respect so they can access services, raise concerns when necessary, influence decision making and hold their landlord to account.
  • The Neighbourhood and Community Standard will require landlords to engage with other relevant parties so that tenants can live in safe and well-maintained neighbourhoods and feel safe in their homes.
  • The Tenancy Standard sets requirements for the fair allocation and letting of homes, as well as requirements for how tenancies are managed by landlords.

Source: Consumer standards consultation

The move is part of RSH’s response to being given greater consumer regulation powers under the Social Housing (Regulation) Act, which became law last week.

The new legislation beefs up the consumer role for the RSH, adding objectives of safety, transparency and energy efficiency to its formal objectives.

Currently, the RSH can usually only intervene on a consumer issue where a ‘serious detriment’ test is passed – placing a high threshold on the regulator’s ability to use its powers. The bill removes this test, meaning RSH can intervene in more tenant complaint cases.

It gives RSH the power to set performance improvement plans backed up with penalties for landlords who do not deliver. The RSH will also have the power to issue unlimited fines, order emergency repairs and access homes at 48 hours’ notice.

The legislation also makes it a legal requirement for around 25,000 ‘senior housing managers’ to hold specific qualifications.

Fiona MacGregor, chief executive of the RSH, said: “We are gearing up for the biggest change to social housing regulation for a decade.

“This will include our landlord inspections from next April, as well as stronger powers to make landlords put things right when they breach our standards.”