Take these five steps to prepare for proactive consumer regulation
Changes to the consumer regulation of social housing will strengthen the accountability of landlords for providing safe homes, quality services and treating residents with respect. Other elements of a stronger regulatory approach include the increased Housing Ombudsman Service powers and a new Building Safety Regulator. As local authorities prepare for the changes, there is a vital need to consider the quality of their homes and services and particularly to consider how they listen to and act on the “tenant’s voice” across their services.
Local authorities should consider taking these five steps:
- Test formal complaints processes – do complaints processes just stand alone or does the learning feed back into the organisation and be acted upon? One of the key areas of focus of the strengthened Housing Ombudsman Service is identifying systemic failure by landlords. If landlords seem to be receiving the same or similar complaints they should be putting steps in place for improvements, informing their tenants what they are doing with their feedback and monitoring the progress of improvements at a senior level.#
- Test the new Tenant Satisfaction Measures – many landlords are now testing TSMs to identify the levels of satisfaction over time and using this information alongside other tenant feedback to identify ‘root causes’ of service failure. TSM information should be considered in a multitude of ways and not just taken at face value – best practice approaches will consider the feedback from tenants by stock type, and location and will also consider the diversity of the tenant base to identify if some tenant groups have different levels of satisfaction.
- Consider the lines of monitoring and control in place for service delivery – how does the senior leadership team and members know that services are being delivered effectively and what processes are in place for accurate reporting and scrutiny of services when they fail?
- Tenant Voice – consider how tenants have a say about how their services are run and managed beyond just traditional consultation. Some local authorities are considering what co-production means for them and asking serious questions about how they can best deliver the essential improvements that have been identified through data collection, TSMs, complaints and other forms of feedback from their tenants.
- Create a tenant-focused culture – the overall purpose of changes to the regulatory framework is to create a culture where tenants feel heard and listened to and where their views are acted upon. Ultimately, this comes down to culture. Local authority landlords are in a position where they need to ask the very difficult question of whether their culture stands up to proactive consumer regulation. A tenant-focused culture is exemplified by transparency and accountability whereas a poor culture sees stigmatisation, buck-passing and poor service delivery.
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