Posted by: Carl Brown27/01/2012
We are now just eight weeks away from the end of the Tenant Services Authority and the beginning of a new era for social housing regulation.
From April 1 the new regulator, a Homes and Communities Agency committee, will no longer routinely monitor consumer regulation, ie, tenant complaints.
Instead, it will only become involved in cases of ‘serious detriment’.
It will be fascinating over the next few years to see what the regulator means by this phrase. TSA director Deborah Ilott, this week admitted the regulator is not going to define the phrase specifically.
When pushed, she said serious detriment will refer to a breach of the standards where there is likely to be harm to tenants. She cited gas safety as an obvious example.
The challenge for the regulator will be ensuring consistency in its classification of problems as ‘serious detriment’ without a specified definition. Even trickier, potentially, will be convincing landlords that it is right to evoke the serious detriment rule in individual cases without a definite benchmark.
One housing co-operative has already contacted Inside Housing with concerns about the lack of clarity.
But perhaps the most telling statement by Ms Ilott was a comment that the serious detriment threshold will be ‘very high’, resulting in few cases requiring the regulator’s involvement.
The regulator will have its work cut out with regulating the governance and viability of social landlords at a time of economic volatility and pressure from the government to extract more value for money from the sector.
There is a strong likelihood therefore that it could be sometime before we find out what serious detriment means.
From Housing matters
Carl Brown looks at regulation, training, board members, pay and a host of other issues that impact the day to day running of social landlords