The Consumer Standards and Decent Homes Guidance - the Need for Compliance

Published: March 29th, 2023

7 min read

On 6th March 2023, the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) published a regulatory notice relating to the London Borough of Haringey (LBH) and potential breaches of the RSH's Regulatory Standards (the Standards)

This notice highlights a continued commitment by the RSH to ensuring registered providers of social housing (RPs) demonstrate effective housing management.

This article aims to highlight the importance to registered providers of social housing (RPs) of compliance with the RSH's Standards and resultantly that its tenants are not exposed to any avoidable risks.

Background

In January 2023, following an internal investigation where a failure to meet statutory health and safety requirements in some of its homes was identified, LBH self-referred itself to the RHS.

As a registered provider of social housing (RPs) LBH is obligated to comply with the Standards. The Standards are broadly split into the Consumer and Economic standards. The Home Standard (which falls within the scope of the Consumer Standard) places an obligation on RPs to ensure the properties it rents meet the criteria set out in government's Decent Homes Guidance and adopt adequate repair and maintenance.

Findings

In its regulatory notice, the RSH "considered the case as a potential breach of parts 1.1 and 1.2 of the Home Standard".

Parts 1.1 and 1.2 relate to the quality of accommodation provided by the RP (i.e. that it should meet the standards set out in the Decent Homes Guidance) and the RP's repair and maintenance provision.

The RSH concluded that LBH failed to adopt effective systems to ensure it was able to meet its "responsibilities in relation to the quality of its homes, and in relation to statutory health and safety compliance across a range of areas." Crucially, it was found that nearly 5000 of LBH homes did not meet the criteria set out in the Decent Homes Standard.

LBH were also found to be in potential breach of part 1.2 of the Home Standard by failing to comply with a number of remedial fire safety actions (of which 4000 were considered high risk) and that it did not have up to date electrical safety reports for thousands of homes.

Forbes Comment

In it understood that LBH is currently taking steps to rectify the failings observed by the RSH and it is working with the RSH to ensure is continued adherence with the Standards. The process includes conducting a full condition survey of its tenants' homes.

This course of action is vital for any RP as failure to rectify issues identified by the RSH. Under Section 198A of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, the RSH has the power to issue enforcement notices which would not only crystalise any obligations outlined in a regulatory notice but for an RP receiving an enforcement notice there can be a detrimental impact its Governance and Viability Gradings.

The findings made by the RSH places an onus on social housing providers as a whole, and highlights that everyone within such organisations has a responsibility for ensuring compliance with the wider Standards. Similarly, internal compliance teams should ensure they have in place policies which are clear, effective, fair and robust, to support staff in upholding the Standards.

Should you require further guidance regarding the Standards or policies and procedures linked to the Homes Standard please do not hesitate to contact our Governance, Procurement and Information team at jonny.hutchings@forbessolicitors.co.uk

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