TAROE Trust has prepared and issued its response to the Regulator of Social Housing’s (RSH) consultation on the new proposed consumer standards.
Overall, TAROE Trust warmly welcomes a broad range of the new measures proposed in the standards.
However, we believe there are some further improvements that can be made, and some omissions addressed before the final set of standards are published. The main changes that TAROE Trust would like to see made to the standards are as follows:
- There is a potential watering down of some aspects of what is currently known as the Tenant Empowerment Standard. Not least is the movement away from the use of ‘tenant engagement and empowerment’ as part of the name of the standard itself. There is also a switch in the use of language towards ‘influence’ rather than the stronger and more robust terminology of ‘empowerment’. Replacing ‘influence’ with ‘tenant empowerment’ would send a clear message of the central importance of this to landlord decision-making and regulatory expectations in this area.
- Whilst we welcome that tenants should have “a wide range of meaningful opportunities to influence and scrutinise their landlord’s strategies, policies and services” as per the Government Direction, we do not believe that the Direction – and therefore ion turn the proposed new standards – goes far enough and the RSH should also require that landlords demonstrate and publish the outcomes achieved as a result of the involvement of tenants. Furthermore, it is not sufficient for landlords to simply “take into account” tenants’ views when making decisions. To be meaningful, there should be a strengthened requirement to both take on views, to give them appropriate and due consideration, and to feed back to tenants on how their views have influenced decision-making.
- We believe that there should be a right for all formally constituted tenant associations to have their voices recognised and heard by their landlord. We call for an additional standard that clearly articulates this expectation.
- We feel that there is a significant omission from the proposed standards in relation to the issue of stigmatisation of tenants living within the regulated housing sector. It was the most significant issue raised by tenants in the post-Grenfell national discussions that took place with tenants, and featured heavily in the Social Housing Green Paper, and albeit to a lesser extent, within the subsequent Social Housing White Paper. It is therefore a real issue for tenants and we feel that a standard should be introduced that requires landlords to take reasonable steps to address issues around stigma when identified.
A copy of TAROE Trust’s full consultation response can be accessed here.