The Government has launched a range of measures today that are designed to drive up standards in the regulated housing sector.
Perhaps most notable is the announcement of a new national Resident Panel which will bring approximately 250 residents from across the country together to discuss and influence a range of measures including: changes to the Decent Homes Standard; a new Access to Information scheme; complaints management; and training and qualifications for housing staff.
The Resident Panel will meet virtually at least three times per year, and the Government has given a commitment to hold at least 6 meetings. The work of the main group will also be supplemented by smaller and focussed sub-groups as well as surveys and questionnaires.
Any residents living in the sector and interested in joining the Panel can express an interest here.
The Government has issued a range of FAQs for those interested in finding out more about the Resident Panel. These can be accessed here.
Naming and shaming landlords
The Government has also announced that they plan to make use of social media in the future to “name and shame” landlords who have either been found to breach the Regulator’s consumer standards or who have received a finding of severe maladministration from the Housing Ombudsman. Further details can be accessed here.
Factsheet about the role of the Regulator and Housing Ombudsman
The Government has also published a factsheet about the respective roles of the Regulator and the Housing Ombudsman service. This is to provide greater clarity to residents on where is the best place to raise their concerns and explain how these bodies work together. The factsheet also explains what changes have been made to date as a result of the Social Housing White Paper, and can be accessed here.
Draft legislative clauses published
Finally, the Government has also released a selection of draft legislative clauses to expand upon the changes to legislation that they propose to make to implement a series of measures, such as those originally set out in the Social Housing White Paper of November 2020.
In total, there are 19 clauses, a schedule and further explanatory notes that have been released. They can be accessed in full here.
No date has yet been released for when parliamentary time will be given to the proposed new legislation. Some key details measures include the following:
- Additional provisions relating to an expanded scope for the Regulator to support housing that is ‘safe’ as well as obligations on landlords to operate transparently with their residents.
- Removal of the ’serious detriment’ test that has prevented the Regulator from proactively regulating consumer standards.
- Requirement for the Regulator to set up an Advisory Panel.
- Increased clarity on the respective roles and joint working between the Regulator and the Housing Ombudsman.
- Greater powers to be conferred on the Regulator to collect certain information on landlords.
- A tightening of criteria for applying to become a Registered Provider.
- A new requirement for landlords to appoint a “health and safety lead”.
- Further details on what is likely to lead to a new Access to Information standard for landlords.
- The Regulator will be given powers to introduce Tenant Satisfaction Measures, survey property conditions and also require landlords to prepare performance improvement plans.
- Caps on the fines that can be applied to landlords will be removed.
- A new requirement for the Regulator to notify the Charity Commission when exercising powers against a landlord that is also a registered charity.