Altair’s response to the consumer standards consultation
We have submitted our response to the regulator of social housing. Altair welcomes the changes to consumer regulation. We have kept a very close watching brief as the new regulatory environment for consumer issues has emerged and we have contributed our experience and expertise to a number of consultations released by the regulator as well as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
The revised consumer standards have been long awaited. The purpose of this new regulatory environment is to vastly improve the quality and safety of social housing. We believe the new arrangements give the regulator the tools they need to deliver on its ambition that consumer regulation makes a difference to tenants, is implementable by landlords and is ‘regulatable’ by RSH.
In our consultation response we have highlighted the following key points:
Safety & Quality Standard – Contract Management
We’ve asked the regulator to consider including a requirement to deliver contract management that achieves positive outcomes for tenants. The reason we’ve asked for this is that often, a failure in repairs services and large-scale investment programmes are due to poor contract management by the landlord, often impacting tenants negatively.
Transparency, Influence & Accountability Standard – Self Referral
We have asked the regulator to provide more guidance in relation to the requirements for self-referral. We know from our client work that material issues can range from an individual tenant complaint to an organisational wide service failure. A literal application of the specific expectation could result in high volumes of reporting of non-compliance and potential non-compliance to the regulator. We have therefore asked the regulator to reflect on this requirement in consideration of the co-regulatory environment and the need for individual registered provider boards to maintain their own grip on compliance.
Transparency, Influence & Accountability Standard
In our response, we have highlighted the absence a requirement in relation to safeguarding tenants from the conduct of a landlord’s employees. We ask that the regulator considers applying the learnings from the Charity Commission inquiry: Oxfam GB Charity Inquiry: Oxfam GB – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) to the consumer standards.
Altair believes that the new standards will improve tenants’ homes and housing management services, and the regulator will be empowered to better hold landlords to account. We are pleased that co-regulation, which has proved successful in relation to the economic standards, is maintained. Our consultation response makes recommendations which we feel will further strengthen the standards for the benefit of tenants, while providing greater clarity for landlords, and enabling more efficient regulation.
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