Tenant Satisfaction Measures – in force now, are you prepared?
As of 1 April 2023 Registered Providers (RPs) are required by the Regulator of Social Housing (the Regulator) to collect and maintain information known as the "Tenant Satisfaction Measures" (TSMs) in connection with their tenants.
The TSMs are a facet of the Government's commitment to robust consumer regulation and forms part of a wider step change to the regulatory landscape which will fully come into play when the Social Housing Regulation Bill becomes effective.
The new obligations on RPs in respect of the TSMs also form part of a wider trend in respect of data and responsible business. A robust system of data collection and management is increasingly seen by investors, regulators and other stakeholders as a key factor in assessing risk and poor data management can be a significant barrier to investment and lead to regulatory sanctions.
What are the TSMs?
In essence the TSMs are a system which will allow RPs to assess their tenant's perception of their home and the service the RP is providing to them. This will be effected by a combination of a Tenant Perception Survey and ensuring that certain key property management information is up to date and properly stored. The current timeline suggests that compliance with the TSMs will need to be reported to the Regulator from the summer of 2024 and be published by the Regulator as of autumn 2024.
The TSMs are organised into seven main themes:
- Overall satisfaction with the service provided by the landlord
- Keeping properties in good repair
- Maintaining building safety
- Safety checks
- Respectful and helpful engagement with tenants
- Effective handling of complaints
- Responsible neighbourhood management
Details of the TSMs that must be covered under each theme can be found here.
Implementation of the TSMs – key considerations
Size of your organisation – All RPs are subject to the TSM requirements, however the nature of each RP's reporting obligation will depend on how many units it owns and the type of stock (e.g. rented or shared ownership). Are you aware of what reporting standard applies to your organisation?
Tenant Perception Survey – An effective Tenant Perception Survey is key to compliance. Has this been integrated into your tenant engagement strategy? Is the survey methodology proportionate to the size and complexity of your tenant base? Are there any data protection, Equality Act and/or confidentiality considerations that need to be addressed (e.g. privacy notices to develop, language barriers to overcome)?
Data systems – Certain of the TSMs are measured by information usually collected in the course of management (e.g. gas safety checks and fire risk assessments). Are your current systems fit for purpose and is the relevant information is it up to date? Do you know what to do if you discover a breach? Is your management information stored in a manner which will allow you to publish and/or report in the form required by the Regulator?
The TSM regime is a part of the wider direction of travel for RPs in which ESG compliance requires a robust audit trail. Increasingly, an organisation's commitment to doing business "responsibly" is only as good as their data collection and management systems.
If you haven't already, now is the time to robustly engage in ensuring your data collection methods enable compliance with the TSM regime and wider ESG criteria necessary to your business.
At Trowers, we have been advising clients for years on the legal issues associated with stock condition, tenant engagement and data management and given the focus on data as part of risk management we are increasingly also helping clients identify and develop technology-based solutions to overcome their data challenges. Get in touch if you would like to hear more.