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Regulatory standards

This content applies to England

Standards that registered social housing providers in England must meet.

Regulatory framework

As part of the framework for the regulation of social housing providers, the regulator of social housing sets standards which registered providers (RPs) of social housing have to meet.

RPs are local authorities and private registered providers of social housing (PRPSHs). See Terminology for details.

The regulatory framework requirements for social housing in England from 1 April 2015 are made up of:[1]

  • regulatory requirements
  • codes of practice in relation to certain standards
  • regulatory guidance in relation to the regulatory requirements and how they will be regulated.

The regulatory requirements comprise consumer and economic regulatory standards. Each is set out in full on Gov.uk and summarised below.

The regulator's approach to the regulation of RPs is explained in its Guide to regulation of registered providers. Detailed guidance is given in Regulating the Standards, published by the Regulator.

Regulatory activity is focused on the riskiest and most complex providers, with an emphasis on the provision of timely and accurate data returns.

Consumer standards

The consumer standards below apply to all RPs.[2]

Tenant involvement and empowerment standard

This requires RPs to:[3]

  • consult with tenants
  • provide good customer service and service choices to tenants (including information about any additional costs relevant to specific choices)
  • have in place a clear and accessible complaints procedure
  • respond to the diverse needs of tenants.

Where a RP wishes to dispose of property to another landlord, it must:[4]

  • consult in a fair, timely, appropriate and effective manner
  • set out its proposals clearly, giving sufficient detail
  • set out actual or potential advantages and disadvantages in both the immediate and longer term
  • be able to demonstrate that they have considered the outcome of the consultation when reaching a decision.

Home standard

This requires RPs to achieve quality of accommodation as set in the Decent Home Guidance and to maintain this standard afterwards, including a good state of repairs and a planned maintenance. Under this standard, RPs must also co-operate with relevant organisations to provide an adaptations service that meets tenants' needs.[5]

Tenancy standard

This requires RPs to:[6]

  • allocate their homes in a fair, transparent and efficient way, with clear application, decision-making and appeal processes in place
  • enable mutual exchange of existing tenants and promote their access to opportunities by way of internet-based mutual exchange services
  • provide services to support tenants to maintain their tenancies and to prevent unnecessary evictions.

It also requires that when deciding the types of tenancies to grant, RPs consider:[7]

  • the purpose of the accommodation
  • the needs of individual households
  • the sustainability of the community
  • the efficient use of housing stock.

All RPs must have a clear tenancy policy setting out the matters above, including any policy on granting discretionary succession rights.[8] In framing their policy, RPs must have regard to the tenancy strategy of the local authority in which area they operate (see Tenancy strategies for more information on this).

Under this standard, a PRPSH will only be able to grant a periodic assured tenancy or a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy (this will cover 'starter tenancies').[9]

Neighbourhood and community standard

This requires RPs to:[10]

  • consult with tenants in developing a policy for maintaining and improving their neighbourhoods
  • co-operate with relevant partners to help promote social, environmental and economic wellbeing in their areas
  • work in partnership with other public agencies to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Economic standards

The economic standards below only apply to PRPSHs, ie not to local authorities.[11]

Governance and financial viability standard

This requires that PRPSHs shall:[12]

  • ensure effective governance arrangements that deliver their aims, objectives and intended outcomes for tenants and potential tenants in an effective, transparent and accountable manner, and to manage their resources effectively to ensure their viability is maintained
  • adhere to all relevant legislation
  • comply with their governing documents and all regulatory requirements
  • be accountable to tenants, the social housing regulator and relevant stakeholders
  • safeguard taxpayers' interests and the reputation of the sector
  • have an effective risk management and internal controls assurance framework
  • manage their resources effectively to ensure viability.

Value for money standard

This requires PRPSHs to:[13]

  • clearly articulate their strategic objectives
  • have an approach, agreed by their board to achieving value for money
  • articulate a strategy for delivering homes that meet a range of needs
  • optimise economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

PRPSHs must set out in public annual self-assessment reports how they are meeting their obligations and how they intend to meet them in the future.[14]

Rent standard

This requires that PRPSHs shall charge rents in accordance with the objectives of the regulatory framework for social housing in England from April 2015.[15] It applies only to social housing tenants with household income of less than £60,000 in the previous financial year.[16] See PRPSH rents for details.

The Rent Standard mandates that from April 2015, rents in PRPSH properties should, with limited exceptions, increase in each of the following ten years, by no more than CPI (consumer price index) plus 1 per cent.[17] The figure permitted increase from April 2012 to March 2014 was RPI (retiail price index) plus 0.5 per cent plus £2 a week.[18]

Where a property is let on 'affordable rent' terms, the directions is slightly different. PRPSHs can set a rent (inclusive of service charges) at up to 80% of the full market rent at the start of a tenancy or when a new tenancy is signed.[19] It can then be increased by CPI plus 1%.[20]

Note that from March 2016 to April 2020, this standard is superseded by the requirement in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 that social rents are cut by 1% per year. See PRPSH rents.

Annual report for tenants

All providers should publish an annual report for their tenants and include their local offers to tenants.[21]

The report must:

  • set out how the provider is meeting the regulatory standards
  • set out how the provider measures compliance against the standards
  • describe how tenants have been involved in producing and scrutinising the report.

Wales

The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] s.193 - s.195 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.

[2] s.193(1) Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.

[3] Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, July 2017.

[4] para 2.2.3 Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard (revised from 14 July 2017 by Decision Instrument 15, Homes and Communities Agency).

[5] Home Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2012. See also section 5, A Decent Home: Definition and guidance for implementation, CLG, June 2006.

[6] Tenancy standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2012.

[7] para 1.2.1, Tenancy standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2012.

[8] para 2.2.1 Tenancy standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2012.

[9] para 2.2.2 Tenancy standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2012.

[10] Neighbourhood and Community Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2012

[11] s.194(1) Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.

[12] Governance and Financial Viability Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2015.

[13] Value for Money Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2018.

[14] para 2.2, Value for Money Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2018.

[15] Rent Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2015.

[16] para 2.5, Rent Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2015.

[17] Para 2.2, Rent Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2015.

[18] Para 1.2, The Regulatory Framework for Social Housing in England from April 2012.

[19] para 2.3(a) and para 2.3(c), Rent Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2015.

[20] para 2.2(b), Rent Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, April 2015.

[21] para 2.2.1(c) Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard, Regulator of Social Housing, July 2017.

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