Landlords must prepare for big changes in the way they are regulated, says Ruth McNaught
Scottish social landlords should gear up for changes in how their performance is monitored.
From April, the social housing charter will set the outcomes and standards that all social landlords should achieve and the new Scottish Housing Regulator will monitor, assess and report on how well the landlords do. The outcomes cover all aspects of the social landlord’s role from rents to repairs.
Only available in draft form so far, it has already prompted debate, with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations among those voicing concern that the charter is too long.
In its response to the consultation, the SFHA said the charter had some ‘fine aspirations’ but could risk ‘more red tape for housing associations and co-operatives, at a time when there are already huge financial pressures’. It has asked the Scottish Government to use its own ‘alternative charter’ as the basis for a final charter.
The alternative charter reduces the outcomes from 71 to nine. These nine, according to the SFHA, are easier to measure and will avoid excessive, resource-intensive and costly reporting requirements. Certainly, no one in the sector will want to monitor and report on outcomes for the sake of it.
We will have to wait and see if the government takes these concerns on board, but in the meantime landlords should examine their internal procedures to check they are in a position to monitor and report on all aspects of their service delivery and their engagement with stakeholders.
It is proposed the first charter will remain in force from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2017 with a review of its effectiveness towards the end of this period.
Ruth McNaught is a solicitor at Harper Macleod