What are the latest social housing sector updates that you should be aware of?
This article looks at the latest reports and inquiry in the sector, covering the key takeaways and actions that providers should be thinking about.
Report on damp and mould
The Housing ombudsman has published a report on damp and mould, which is a recurring issue on many disrepair claims.
The report is tellingly titled “Its not lifestyle” and focuses on the need for a proactive, strategic approach to damp and mould complaints, moving away from what is a perceived assumption of tenant lifestyle/failure to properly heat and ventilate.
The recommendations are wide ranging. They cover not only the response to reports, but also that it is ensured those reports are made, reviewing procedures, joined up working between teams and learning from complaints. Landlords are also encouraged to identify issues before complaints are made. There are 26 recommendations in total.
The key takeaways are, in my opinion that the Ombudsman is looking for systems that do not rely on resident reporting and in the event of a report that there is good communication (internal ad external) to ensure the complaint is dealt with properly and promptly.
The report is very much in line with increased tenant engagement / partnership working, both in the proactive and reactive stages.
Whilst tenants may not have the Ombudsman’s reports at the top of their reading lists, it is reasonable to assume the solicitors specialising in disrepair claims will.
Inquiry – regulation of social housing
In mid-November the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee launched an inquiry into the regulation of social housing in England and remains open until 21 December 2021.
The purpose is wide ranging and includes:
- The quality of housing stock;
- The impact of resolving building safety risks;
- The impact of resolving energy efficiency measures;
- The regulatory regime;
- The Decent Homes Standard;
- Registration requirements with the regulator; and
- The social housing White Paper proposals.
Clive Betts, Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, commentated:
“Beyond the need for action to tackle the lack of social housing in England, questions also need to be asked about the quality of existing social housing and how the complaints of residents can be better handled and resolved.
“Stories of dilapidated social housing and tales of housing associations failing to respond to residents’ complaints call into question the effectiveness of the existing regulatory regime and how far the Government’s White Paper proposals go to help ensure tenants are treated properly and fairly. In our inquiry, we want to explore concerns around the quality of social housing and whether the current regime for the regulation of social housing is fit for purpose.”
Written evidence can be submitted to the committee here.
What’s next for social housing?
There may be a White Paper on levelling up coming soon and as housing must be a key factor in any strategy, we expect it to be a large part of the conference four pillars approach to levelling up. It’s a case of watch-this-space as to when this will be published next year.
If you would like advice on any of the above, please get in touch with our social housing team.