Key considerations for social housing providers under the Regulator’s new Consumer Standards 

Diane Carney

Senior Consultant

The new Consumer Standards introduced by the Regulator of Social Housing in April are already driving significant changes across the sector. These standards are designed to enhance the quality of housing and services, with a strong focus on safety and the need to evidence the outcomes of tenant engagement and safety. Here, DTP Senior Consultant Diane Carney shares her insights on what social housing providers should prioritise under these new regulations. 

Understanding and responding to the standards 

The Consumer Standards have been generally well received by the sector. They clearly outline what quality housing and landlord services should look like, with a focus on rebalancing the tenant-landlord relationship. Providers have been proactive in conducting self-assessments and gap analyses to align their practices with the new standards. 

The Safety and Quality homes standard 

This standard places a strong emphasis on understanding and maintaining housing stock. Providers are required to conduct 100% property inspections, ensuring that data is not older than five years. Accurate data is crucial for making informed decisions about property maintenance and safety. 

Key actions: 

  1. Complete stock condition surveys: Ensure all properties are inspected regularly, frequency will depend on the needs of the stock. 
  2. Improve data management: Integrate robust IT systems to manage property data effectively. 
  3. Collaborate across teams: Foster cooperation between property teams and other departments to ensure data is comprehensive and accessible. 

The Transparency, Influence and Accountability Standard 

With the first submission of Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs) approaching, providers must ensure their management information data on complaints, repairs, decency, anti-social behaviour, and property compliance is accurate. The standard prescribes specific methodologies for calculating and reporting these measures. 

Key actions: 

  1. Review and organise data: Ensure all relevant data is correctly managed and reflects the true state of services. 
  2. Engage with tenants: Communicate results and plans for improvement with tenants, leveraging existing customer feedback mechanisms. 
  3. Double-check methodologies: Confirm that the methods used for reporting TSMs align with regulatory requirements. 

Preparing for inspections 

The introduction of proactive inspections under the new Consumer Standards marks a significant shift. Providers must be prepared to demonstrate compliance and show evidence the outcomes of the of meeting the standards. 

Key actions: 

  1. Regular self-assessments: Continually evaluate and review your organisation’s practices against the standards.  
  2. Prepare documentation: Ensure all relevant documents and data are up-to-date and accessible for inspections. 
  3. Seek external support: Consider engaging consultants to help identify gaps and prepare for inspections. 

Future considerations 

Looking ahead, social housing providers should be aware of the broader implications of the new standards. The sector will benefit from the Regulator’s global TSM results, which will provide insights into sector-wide performance. Additionally, upcoming regulations such as Awaab’s Law and the Conduct and Competency Standard will further shape the landscape. 

Key actions: 

  1. Stay informed: Keep up-to-date with new regulatory developments and sector insights. 
  2. Embed standards: Ensure that the new consumer standards are fully integrated into daily operations. 
  3. Continuous improvement: Regularly review and improve practices to stay compliant and enhance service quality. 

And finally…… 

The new Consumer Standards represent a significant step towards improving the quality of social housing and strengthening tenant-landlord relationships. By focusing on robust data management, proactive engagement with tenants and thorough preparation for inspections, social housing providers can ensure they meet these new regulatory requirements and deliver high-quality services. 

For further support and guidance on meeting the new Consumer Standards, please get in touch.