What you need to know about the consumer regulation review…

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The Regulator of Social Housing has released its ninth Consumer Regulation Review and as always, it is jam packed with helpful information and practical examples of how the wider sector is working and what further work is required, to meet statutory requirements and manage the needs of tenants.

The review starts with well a deserved nod to the challenges that the sector has faced in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and, reassuringly, states that in most cases the sector has been able to respond to these challenges well whilst also maintaining tenant safety.

The casework within the review has identified four key themes which are explored throughout and offers a number of suggestions as to how best to manage each.

If the full report was TL:DR (too long: didn’t read) for you, we’ve listed these below.

Health and Safety Compliance and Managing Risk

  • Ensuring robust management of key checks and inspections for compliance and health and safety allows organisations to be in the best position to deal with unexpected and unforeseen challenges.
  • Data is key to meet statutory health and safety requirements. Holding good quality data better enables organisations to manage the risk associated with changes to services and legislation.

Communicating with tenants and understanding their needs

  • The onus remains with registered providers to understand how best to communicate with tenants, often this speaks to the organisations culture and the purpose of communication.
  • Individuals remain the highest reporters to the regulator with 42% of all referrals coming from this group.

Continuous learning from complaints

  • Complaints must be taken seriously and used as an early indicator to show that things generally may be going wrong.
  • Complaint resolution should not only be to satisfy a tenant but to consider systemic failings.

Complying with the standards and planning for the future.

  • The White Paper released in November 2020 set out the vision for social housing in England. Until the Fire Safety and Building Safety Bills are made into legislation the RSH will still regulate within their current remit and mandate. However traction needs to be made by all registered providers to make significant changes now and not to wait until the Bills and White Paper are enforceable.

The case studies within the review have highlighted some of the key areas that registered providers have struggled with, in part due to access issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, there is a specific focus on compliance, particularly asbestos management and maintaining comprehensive records for electrical safety for all properties. Reference is made to the importance of governance within an organisation, particularly if properties are leased and/or managed by a management agent.

In terms of action taken in the event of a potential breach of the consumer and economic standards, what is clear to see throughout each case study, is that the regulator is keen to recognise the efforts of organisations who not only self-notify, but are found to have already started formulating and implementing an improvement plan. Pennington Choices has worked with many clients to help them do exactly that, with incredible results and testimonies that speak for themselves.

Here at Pennington Choices we are thrilled to see the Regulator endorsing such critical work to ensure tenant safety, which is something that unites all working in the sector.

We have a varied range of products available to support you. To ensure you keep tenants safe, we launched our compliance health check and data validation packages. To meet your legal and regulatory obligations we created our policy workshops and accredited training courses. Finally, to keep ahead of the curve we are now also delivering our comprehensive building safety gap analysis package. Please check our website for our complete offering, by clicking here.

For more information on how we can help your organisation, or to have a chat about any of the topics within the blog, get in touch with our Property Consultants, by clicking here.

– Caitlin Stubbs, Consultant at Pennington Choices


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