Inside the Social Housing Regulation Bill

This year’s Queen’s Speech, delivered to Parliament by Prince Charles on behalf of the Queen on 10th May, saw confirmation that the Social Housing Regulation Bill will be introduced in the next Parliament.

The Grenfell Tower fire highlighted an unbalance in the current landlord-tenant relationship, specifically regarding the power of the tenant voice and the level of sanctions facing landlords who house tenants in unsatisfactory or unsafe housing. The Social Housing Regulation Bill aims to improve this situation by introducing several measures which mean housing is better regulated, and the fines are greater when tenants are forced to live in unsuitable conditions due to landlord’s neglect.

The bill is structured as a list of amendments to the Housing Regeneration Act 2008 with the most significant changes focused on changing the regulator’s role, and how and when they can intervene. Here are the three most important elements of the proposed bill:

  1. Introduction of Performance Improvement Plans

The regulator can now mandate that landlords, who are found to be in breach of standards, adhere to a ‘performance improvement plan’ which sets out deadlines for improvements to be made. The impact of these will depend on what sanctions the regulator will be prepared to enforce when these deadlines aren’t met.

  1. Naming and shaming landlords

Under proposals put forward, the government will use its website and social media channels to share the names of landlords who break the regulator’s standards. However, while this might appear a new proposal, the Housing Ombudsman already published a table which reveals landlords who allow unsafe levels of damp and mould in their property, so it is unclear what the real effect of this ‘new’ proposal will be.

  1. Regulator controlled safety standards

The regulator will have the authority to set a safety standard and enforce it. Measures include the requirement for social landlords to appoint a named individual responsible for Health and Safety.

 

If you would like to get in touch to discuss any of the following please email Martha Jennings.