HCA panel rejects all calls for consumer regulation
The new social housing regulator has already rejected 20 complaints about consumer regulation following its creation on 1 April.
The regulatory panel of the Homes and Communities Agency, which is now responsible for social housing regulation, has not received any consumer regulation cases so far that meet its threshold for intervention.
Unlike it predecessor, the Tenant Services Authority, the regulatory panel is primarily focused on economic regulation of social landlords. It will only intervene in consumer regulation cases where there is a threat of harm to tenants.
Ralph Smale, senior risk and assurance manager at the Homes and Communities Agency, said the regulator has set up a panel to sift enquiries and to see whether they meet the ‘serious detriment’ test. The panel looks at whether there has been a standards breach, whether the problem is systemic and whether there is actual or potential harm to tenants.
Mr Smale, speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing south west conference in Torquay yesterday, said: ‘We’ve looked at about 20 cases, and there isn’t one that has achieved those [serious detriment] tests so they have been batted back to providers.
‘The regulator is not really going to be playing a role in consumer regulation.’
Mr Smale said consumer regulation will make up less than 1 per cent of what the regulator does, but will require more than 1 per cent of resources.
He said: ‘The reason for that is there are going to be a lot of calls and enquiries from the sector generally for the regulator to get involved in consumer regulation issues, we won’t be able to act on them but we will need to justify why we haven’t.
‘It puts us in an unfortunate position, we will be spending resources putting in place evidence to justify why we haven’t acted.’
Mr Smale added: ‘Until we reach the first serous detriment case we are not going to know what the resource requirement is.’ He said dealing with cases would be ‘resource-intensive’.