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Social Housing White Paper: A new hope for tenants? A Brief Breakdown...by Anthony Buchanan


The White Paper outlines a new Charter for residents of Social Housing, with 7 headline promises.

  1. To be safe in your home - we will work with industry and landlords to ensure every home is safe and secure.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. To be treated with respect - backed by a strong consumer regulator and improved consumer standards for tenants.

  5. To have your voice heard by your landlord - for example through regular meetings, scrutiny panels or being on its Board. The Government will provide help, if you want it, to give you the tools to ensure your landlord listens.

  6. To have a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in - with your landlord keeping your home in good repair.

  7. To be supported to take your first step to ownership - so it is a ladder to other opportunities, should your circumstances allow.

In this report I will cover promises 2 to 6 as these apply primarily to social housing tenants.

To know how your landlord is performing

The Regulator is set to introduce a new set of Tenant Satisfaction Measures, a draft set of measurements have been published and are available on page 23 of the White Paper but are still subject to further review.

An Access to Information Scheme is to be introduced ensuring that information about a landlord is easily accessible to their tenants. Under this scheme, landlords will be required to publish their CEO and senior executive salaries and management costs (subject to the size of the organisation).


To have your complaints dealt with promptly and fairly

Landlords will have to carry out a self-assessment of their compliance with the Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code and publish the results.

Landlords are not the only ones who have been delegated new duties under the White Paper.

The Housing Ombudsman will also have a key role to play as they will be required to co-operate with the Regulator when undertaking their responsibility to hold landlords to account. Both parties will become statutory consultees of the other, meaning that any changes to Ombudsman’s complaints code or to the Regulator’s consumer standards, will have to be given the green light by the other.

The Ombudsman will also be required to start publishing reports on how they have handled complaints and appoint an independent reviewer by March 2021 to deal with any complaints about their own services.


To be treated with respect

There will be a new consumer regulation function set up within Regulator’s existing organisation. This function will be responsible for making changes to the Regulator’s objectives so that they explicitly include reference to safety and transparency.

An Advisory Committee will also be created to provide independent advice on how the Regulator discharges its function.

In addition to this internal re-organisation, the Regulator will be encouraged to adopt a proactive approach to consumer regulation, particularly when it comes to investigating landlord breaches.

To facilitate this approach, the Regulator will be under an obligation to carry out routine inspections of landlords with over 1,000 properties every four years. They will also be given increased enforcement powers, such as unlimited regulatory fines and reducing the notice period (down from 28 days to 2 days) that they are required to give landlords to inspect their properties.


To have your voice heard by your landlord

To encourage tenants to speak out, the Regulator will require landlords to evidence how they have tried to improve tenant engagement.

There will also be a review of the Decent Homes Standard to ensure that present day issues such as energy efficiency, safety concerns and the need for green space, are being adequately provided for.


To have a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in

The Decent Homes Standard will be reviewed by autumn 2021, to decide if it needs to be updated. The review will consider energy efficiency and decarbonisation, access to green spaces and access to communal space.

Linking back to the KPIs mentioned in chapter 2, the specific inclusion of ‘satisfaction with anti-social behaviour’ handling has relevance here too, with landlords having to report how they are performing in this area, and be challenged on this as necessary by The Regulator.

The Government will clarify the responsibilities of landlords and the police in directly tackling anti-social behaviour, so residents understand where to access support and what to expect in terms of a response, including greater clarity around the availability of Community Trigger or multi-agency ASB Case Review arrangements.

The new regulatory consumer standards will include requiring landlords to have a policy to tackle issues surrounding domestic abuse.


You can access a copy of the white paper by clicking on the link below

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Hi Brenda and Anthony - just to clarify the government has made it clear not to wait for the legislation to come through but act on these proposals as if they have already come through. Hence why as a team we are working hard to generate an action framework for the TI team to increase its role and visibility within and external to the council. You are all very much going to be front and centre of those changes.

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Like you Anthony I have read through this White Paper. I did not find it an easy read because I am not familiar with Government jargon. As you write there are many changes of regulations in many areas. I did have a wry smile when I came across the following (found in Section 50) - Some of these measures set out in this chapter require primary legislation before they can be implemented and we will legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows = wonder how long that will be then?

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