The Government has today published a package of new measures to improve social housing quality, almost five years after the devasting Grenfell Tower fire.
These measures build on the Social Housing White Paper issued last November and will fundamentally change the way the social housing providers interact with their tenants, says Matt Cowen, an Associate in the Social Housing team at Winckworth Sherwood.
“The Government has published draft legislation which will hold social housing providers to greater account. It will see the introduction of higher standards of safety and quality in social housing stock, including the requirement for social housing providers to designate a person to act as lead on the landlord’s health and safety obligations towards tenants.
“Under this draft legislation, the Regulator for Social Housing will be able to proactively regulate consumer standards, a marked change from the reactive approach that they have taken to date where they only involved themselves if there was a risk of ‘serious detriment’ to tenants.
“The Government has also issued a policy paper making clear that they will name and shame social housing providers that fail to meet the Regulator’s consumer standards or where the Housing Ombudsman has made a finding of severe maladministration against them.
“The package of measures also includes the creation of a new national residents’ panel of around 250 social tenants who will meet regularly with government to contribute towards further reforms of the sector.
“This approach represents a significant change to the relationship between the social housing provider and its tenants, so it is vitally important social housing providers actively consider what changes need to be made, taking into account their specific tenant and stock profile.
“Whilst we have only just seen the draft legislation, its contents are not surprising. Social Housing providers have had considerable notice of most of these changes, so the Regulator for Social Housing is unlikely to be flexible with further time extensions to achieve compliance once the legislation is enacted. Social housing providers must act now.
“We expect these measures to be included in the forthcoming Social Housing Regulation Bill.”
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