The Social Housing Regulation Act and the changing landscape of consumer regulation
We are living in an incredibly important time in the regulation of RPs. We have seen some of the most significant events in social housing over recent years, with the Grenfell fire tragedy in 2017 through to Awaab Ishak's death and recent findings in relation to damp and mould and the inadequacy of social housing.
It appears that public and tenant trust and confidence in social housing is at something of a low ebb. Michael Gove has signalled his intention to take a tough line with RPs who are failing to meet the expected standards, potentially through the withholding of grant.
Against this backdrop, we are expecting The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 (Act) to receive Royal Assent.
The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 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.
Of course, alongside this we have already seen the introduction of the tenant satisfaction measures on 1 April which RPs are now required to report on. It is anticipated that the first year of data will be published in Autumn 2024.
We are also going to see a shakeup of the consumer standards themselves with several new consumer standards being introduced including in relation not professionalism and transparency and information. The drafts of those should be published for consultation in summer 2023.
All of this means that it is critical now, more than ever, that RPs ensure they are well governed and able to comply with their regulatory requirements.
There is a lot of detail in the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 that RPs need to be aware of. Please refer to our Essential Guide to the Act and further information regarding the revised consumer standards which will be published in due course.