Update: Tenant Access to Information Scheme

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Housing & Regeneration Article

05 April, 2022

Back in November 2020, the government published the Social Housing White Paper which set out proposals to drive up standards and improve the regulation of the social housing sector in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

One of the proposals related to introducing a new access to information scheme for social housing tenants of housing associations and other private registered providers. The aim of this proposal is to ensure a culture change whereby landlords are more open with tenants, beyond the information provided through tenant satisfaction measures. It would also provide tenants of housing associations and other private registered providers with the same rights to access information from their landlords as tenants of local authorities have under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

What was proposed?

The tenant access to information scheme includes the following proposals:

  • All social housing tenants or representatives can access information from their landlord.
  • The scheme will be broadly aligned to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
  • If a tenant feels their landlord has unreasonably withheld information, then they can challenge that decision. The first stage of this should be an internal review carried out by the landlord.
  • The Housing Ombudsman will be engaged to decide on cases that have not been resolved at this first internal review stage.
  • The Housing Ombudsman would also be able to refer suspected systemic breaches of the scheme to the regulator as it does on other matters.

What is the latest update?

The proposal relating to access to information set out in the White Paper require the law the change to give tenants the right to seek this information from their landlords.

On 30 March 2022, the government published a sample of draft clauses and explanatory notes, to achieve the government ambition to improve the quality of landlord services and implement the proposals set out in the White Paper. A copy of the draft clauses can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-housing-regulation-draft-clauses

The draft clauses contain little detail about how the access to information scheme will be implemented. However, they do propose to give the RSH the power to set standards RPs in matters
relating to the provision of information to their tenants.

We are yet to see the full detail of how the access to information scheme will be implemented, what information it will include, what exemptions there will be, the relevant time limits and what the appeals procedure will look like.

We will provide a further update once any additional guidance is published.

For more information contact Bethany Paliga in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01254 222347. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Housing & Regeneration department here

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