Governance and Regulation – Quarterly round-up

Naming and shaming “failing” social landlords

Last week, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUP) began naming and shaming “failing” landlords, publishing a list of 20 registered providers of social housing who have had findings of severe maladministration made against them since September 2021. This follows on from announcements made earlier this year as part of the Government’s social housing sector reforms.

In an updated policy statement DLUP warned that “[t]he Department will highlight poor practice by landlords including on its social media platforms. This will include published findings by the Housing Ombudsman of severe maladministration, and judgements of the Regulator of Social Housing that consumer standards have been breached.”

Social Housing Regulation Bill – progress through Parliament

The Bill has passed the Second Reading stage in the House of Lords and is at Committee stage, with the next sitting on 6 September. A number of amendments have already been proposed to the Bill, including that ensuring energy efficiency should form part of the RSH’s regulatory objectives.

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee – report on the Regulation of Social Housing

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee published its first report in July following the parliamentary committee’s enquiry into the regulation of social housing.

The report contains a number of recommendations, which in some cases appear to go beyond the remit of the committee’s enquiry, including:

  • A call on the Government to introduce funding specifically for regeneration and to deliver on its commitment to increase the supply of homes for social rent;
  • That the Government present a fully-funded plan for ensuring the one-for-one and like-for-like replacement of every home sold under the Right to Buy;
  • That as part of the review of the consumer standards, the RSH should require providers to routinely audit the condition of their stock;
  • That providers should ensure their board and senior management teams better reflect the diversity of their communities (and for the RSH to incorporate this requirement into the revised consumer standards); and
  • In order to reverse the trend of some providers “becoming too remote”, that the wording of the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard be strengthened to require providers to deliver genuinely local and tenant centred housing services.

Perhaps the most damning finding of the report is that the current “systemic failure” test applied by the RSH is “the most passive interpretation of its statutory duty imaginable and has resulted in providers that are responsible for serious mismanagement affecting dozens of tenants nonetheless being found compliant with the standards”. The report calls for the RSH to reconsider its interpretation of its statutory duties and to abandon the “systemic failure” test.

It will be interesting to note how the findings of the report impact on the progression of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill through the parliamentary process and its amendment during this process.

For more information, please contact Sharon Thandi or Gemma Bell.

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