The social housing white paper: Implications for landlords18/11/20
The long awaited social housing white paper—The Charter for Social Housing Residents—(“the Charter”) was published yesterday (17 November 2020). The white paper sets out reforms under seven key chapters which all aim to improve services to tenants and give tenants a stronger voice.
In this extended insight, we look at some of the measures detailed within the Charter, and what they mean for our social housing clients and their residents. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing further insights on the new measures in more detail and summarise how the new Charter will impact your organisations’ approaches. You can subscribe to our upcoming mailings here.
The newly-released white paper sets out what the Government will do to ensure landlords live up to this new Charter. The Government will be working with the Regulator for Social Housing (RSH) to create a strong, proactive consumer regulatory regime, strengthening the formal standards against which landlords are regulated and requiring them to:
- be transparent about their performance and decision-making, so that tenants and the regulator can hold them to account;
- put things right when they go wrong; and
- listen to tenants through effective engagement.
Highlights from the white paper and implications for landlords
We’ve taken a look at the proposals under the seven chapters, and have highlighted some particular areas of interest, the links to these articles are available below:
- To be safe in your home. We will work with industry and landlords to ensure every home is safe and secure.
- To know how your landlord is performing, including on repairs, complaints and safety, and how it spends its money, so you can hold it to account.
- To have your complaints dealt with promptly and fairly, with access to a strong ombudsman who will give you swift and fair redress when needed.
- To be treated with respect, backed by a strong consumer regulator and improved consumer standards for tenants.
- To have your voice heard by your landlord, for example through regular meetings, scrutiny panels or being on its Board.
- To have a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in, with your landlord keeping your home in good repair.
- To be supported to take your first step to ownership, so it is a ladder to other opportunities, should your circumstances allow.
The tone of the white paper is very clear, tenants will be at the heart of everything that a social housing provider does. The good news is that this is normal for the vast majority of landlords and that many of the new requirements will be in line with how services are currently delivered.
It is likely that many housing providers will already have things in place such as a robust complaints process, domestic abuse policies, training programmes, tenant engagement strategies and proactive management of anti-social behaviour (ASB). Many housing providers have already signed up to the NHF’s Together with Tenants Charter, and this will stand them in good stead, particularly with Chapter 5.
However, the white paper does introduce a more robust approach to consumer regulation in the form of ‘proactive’ regulation with the introduction of an inspection regime and many other measures. Housing Providers have remained resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic and have ensured that critical services are still being provided to tenants. The new requirements highlighted within the white paper will add to the list of priorities that boards and executive teams are currently trying to juggle.
It’s clear that the white paper introduces a more robust approach to consumer regulation, with tougher fines and more powers to the regulator. The backdrop to these changes focus on putting tenants first, providing more information to tenants and placing them at the core of service delivery. The housing sector as a whole is driven by providing excellent services and safe homes for tenants, and therefore will be well equipped to deal with these new changes that lie ahead.
Changes to governance arrangements and reporting is inevitable, and boards will have a ‘responsible person’ to hold to account to ensure compliance. Investment in training and development for staff and indeed tenants is highly likely, which may have an impact on budgets.
Capsticks will continue to work with our clients in supporting them through the new journey ahead, and are equipped with expert lawyers and an Advisory service to assist in practical changes which may be required.
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 2020. Learn more and register here.