What are the top 5 issues in Housing Compliance?

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Top Five Housing Compliance Issues

Being able to both manage and fully evidence 100% compliance across the required areas of statutory legislation has become something of the ‘holy grail’ for most registered housing providers. The risks associated with failure to fully comply, coupled with the freedoms to manage in a co-regulated environment have seen many providers fall short in terms of complying with their obligations. This has often resulted in regulatory sanctions, with several registered providers having their governance ratings downgraded by the Homes & Community Agency, which has had considerable long-term consequences for these organisations.

What is good housing compliance?

The on-going safety of residents is of paramount importance for housing providers. Coupled with full compliance of legislation and regulatory standards, registered providers should address the five key housing compliance issues below:

1. Set the right strategic context and climate for housing compliance.

Ensure this is also translated into operational activity. We have found that many organisations lack strategy direction for compliance management. The implementation of a Statutory Compliance Framework will assist Boards and Senior Leaders in clarifying their intentions and expectations around compliance.

2. Demonstrate and evidence full housing compliance management via ‘one version of the truth’.

Compliance management through programmes and other data in multiple systems is a common problem in many organisations. Data is often held in Excel spreadsheets, a standalone database and is invariably not fully interfaced with a core housing management IT system. This often means accuracy of matching data cannot be guaranteed between the asset data in these systems and the asset data being held in the core housing management IT system. This in turn has an impact on the reporting of KPIs and in achieving ‘one version of the truth’. One way to address this is to implement appropriate compliance management software that can interface with the core housing management IT system. Alternatively using the ‘attributes’ in the existing housing management or asset database systems could be the answer.

 3. Housing Compliance Performance Reporting.

All registered providers have an obligation to manage and report on gas safety, and many are now doing this well. However, we have found in our Compliance Health Checks there is very little compliance reporting beyond gas safety. What about governance and management reporting on asbestos, water hygiene, fire safety and electrical safety? We have found that reporting at both governance and management levels is often inadequate or non-existent. The development of an appropriate suite of compliance KPIs at both levels is necessary for effective compliance management,  and to provide reporting that will drive activity, intervention and action.

4. Keep abreast of the legislation and ensure policies and procedures are up-to-date.

We found in a number of organisations that compliance management policies and procedures were either not in place, or out of date and did not comply with regulations, legislation and/or codes of practice. All policies and procedures should have assigned owners within the organisation and be subject to a biennial or annual review, or more frequently where the legislation or codes of practice change.

5. Embed housing compliance as a key component to your Risk Strategy.

In a number of Compliance Health Checks we have carried out there has been limited evidence of internal or external auditing of the “big 5” property compliance areas as part of the organisations overall Risk Strategy. Some organisations do not have key areas of property compliance on their annual risk plan, independently checked or verified by third parties.  We would expect to see the “big 5” property compliance areas feature within the Risk Management approach and on a planned programme of audits. In addition, we would recommend an agreed percentage of independent auditing in the form of Quality Audits of the field work, and desk-top reviews of the relevant safety inspection certificates.

Unsure of how your organisation performs against compliance regulations? Contact jenny.neville@pennington.org.uk for your Compliance Health Check.

 

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