Through its consumer investigations, the regulator protects thousands of tenants across England by uncovering failures within social housing landlords and getting them to put things right. Over the past year, 13 social landlords breached the current consumer standards and the cases posed actual, or the potential for, serious harm to tenants.
The regulator expects all social landlords to read its report and learn from the cases. The key findings are:
- All social landlords must maintain a tight grip on the quality of the homes they manage. Too many breaches were the result of weak data and an incomplete understanding of the condition of tenants’ homes.
- The sector must learn from the tragic case of Awaab Ishak in Rochdale. Landlords must listen to their tenants’ complaints and carry out thorough and timely investigations.
- The majority of breaches this year were by local authorities. It is vital that councillors and other senior leaders ensure effective mechanisms are in place to identify and tackle problems quickly.
- Meeting legal health and safety requirements is non-negotiable. Landlords must ensure they complete all safety checks on time.
- The providers who successfully returned to compliance last year worked to understand the root cause of their problems, and their senior leadership teams engaged constructively with the regulator.
The report comes as RSH gets ready for the biggest transformation to social housing regulation in a decade. The Social Housing Regulation Bill, which has nearly finished its journey through parliament, will bolster the regulator’s powers and give tenants greater opportunity to hold landlords to account. This will include regular inspections of larger social landlords from April 2024. The regulator will consult on new consumer standards later this summer, as part of its work to prepare for the new approach.
Kate Dodsworth, Chief of Regulatory Engagement at RSH, said: “Every tenant deserves to live in a safe and decent home. Our work shows that some tenants have been let down by their landlord, and this needs to change. We expect all social landlords to be respectful, transparent and responsive to their tenants when things go wrong, and we will hold them to account if they fail.
“We’re gearing up for stronger consumer regulation, with our inspections starting from April next year. All social landlords should read our report carefully, and make sure they are providing a good quality service to their tenants.”