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The past few years have seen some of the most significant events in social housing, with the Grenfell fire tragedy in 2017 bringing conversations around the adequacy of social housing and especially the lack of tenant involvement and empowerment to the fore. 

The Government published the Social Housing Green Paper: A New Deal for Social Housing in 2018 and subsequently the Social Housing White Paper/Tenants Charter in 2020 all with the aim of improving how social housing is regulated. More recent issues such as Awaab Ishak's death and the Housing ombudsman's regular findings of severe maladministration have kept this conversation at the fore.

The tone of comments, particularly from Michael Gove as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, is very much now that those living in social housing deserve better and that the sector and public will not tolerate RPs who are failing to meet the expected standards.

All of this sets the context for The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, which received Royal Assent on 20 July 2023. We have put together this Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 – essential guide to help summarise the key aspects.

It is intended to be the catalyst for a new proactive approach to regulating social housing, ensuring standards are met and taking action against failing landlords. The Act itself describes its purpose as being to "reform the regulatory regime to drive significant change in landlord behaviour".

Simply, this is the most important piece of legislation for RPs for many years. Those responsible for managing and operating RPs must be aware of its significance and understand not just what the detail requires, but also the way this fundamentally alters the landscape for social housing, the expectations on social landlords and the rights of tenants going forward.

Overview of the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023

  • to facilitate a new, proactive consumer regulation regime
  • to refine the existing economic regulatory regime
  • to strengthen the Regulator of Social Housing’s (Regulator) powers to enforce the consumer and economic regimes

Reform the consumer regulatory regime

The Act will facilitate a new proactive consumer regulatory regime. To achieve this, the Regulator’s statutory objectives will now include safety and transparency and it will have new powers to support this. Significantly, the ‘serious detriment’ test will be removed paving the way for action to be taken by the Regulator in a greater number of cases of breaches of the consumer standards.

Refine the economic regulatory regime

Whilst the emphasis is on improving consumer regulation, it is clear that this is not to be at the detriment of the economic standards. The Act also seeks to maintain and refine the Regulator’s current economic regulatory role. Ensuring that providers are well governed and financially viable remains a core priority for the Regulator.

Strengthen the Regulator’s enforcement powers

The Act will strengthen the Regulator by giving it new enforcement powers, seeking to ensure it can effectively intervene when required. This is particularly the case in relation to the consumer standards in order to underpin the importance of these.

Download the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 – essential guide.