The long awaited social housing white paper—The Charter for Social Housing Residents—(“the Charter”) was published yesterday (17 November 2020). This white paper sets out reforms under seven key chapters which all aim to improve services to tenants and give them a stronger voice. We summarise the second chapter, and what this means for landlords below.

Chapter 2: To know how your landlord is performing

  • RSH to introduce new tenant satisfaction measures.
  • Introducing a new access to information scheme to enable tenants to easily access performance information about their landlord.
  • landlords will need to provide a clear breakdown of how their income is being spent, including levels of executive remuneration, to be published alongside their tenant satisfaction measures.

  • Requirement for landlords to identify a senior person in their organisation who is responsible for ensuring they comply with the consumer standards set by the Regulator of Social Housing.

  • Expect landlords to report to every tenant on such matters at least once a year, if not continuously, using technology.

These measures focus on transparency for tenants in order to have an understanding of what a good service should look like. For many landlords, these new measures will not have a big impact on their current working practices, as they’ll already be benchmarking their services with their peers.

However, using this information to share with tenants may require some refining, to ensure that all tenants have access to this information through the use of technology. Many landlords already have useful apps for mobile devices that tenants can access, so incorporating performance data may require some additional thought.

This is also an opportunity for landlords, their boards and tenants to recalibrate measures that are used to gauge satisfaction to ensure that meaningful outcomes are produced as a result of gathering information.

The white paper talks about not only ‘quantitative’ measures but also ‘tenant perception’ measures. Issues such as anti-social behaviour (ASB) is a key example where some landlords struggle to improve ‘perceptions’ of how ASB is being managed, because each case is different and therefore expectations may be different. This will go hand in hand with some of the other introductions set out in the White Paper such as Chapter four ‘To be treated with respect’.

The paper sets out a draft set of tenant satisfaction measures as an example. Careful thought will need to be given to these measures to reflect the differences in communities that landlords serve. Some of the measures are binary, however there are many measures that often to not tell the whole story such as ‘how many ASB complaints are received’.

Other highlights from the white paper

We’ve taken a look at the various proposals under the seven chapters, and have highlighted some particular areas of interest for landlords, which are available below:

Register for our upcoming webinar

We wait with interest for the new consumer standards, but in the meantime we will be holding a webinar to discuss the white paper and what it means for registered providers on 1 December 2020Learn more and register here.