Regulator finds no cases of serious detriment out of 130 complaints
Concerns as HCA fails to intervene
The new social housing regulator has decided several complaints about fire and gas safety were not significant enough to cause tenants serious harm in the first test of its approach.
The Homes and Communities Agency’s regulatory committee, which took over regulation of social landlords from the Tenant Services Authority in April, no longer routinely intervenes in consumer enquiries. It only now gets involved in cases that it deems have caused ‘serious detriment’ to tenants.
Since 1 April, the new regulator revealed it has received 130 complaints from tenants, and deemed 50 worthy of inquiry. Of these, five were investigated further but none were found to meet the serious detriment criteria.
A spokesperson for the HCA confirmed the five cases related to fire safety hazards in a block, the testing of electrical appliances following a fire, mould growth and gas safety. She said: ‘There have been no findings of serious detriment.’
Michael Gelling, chair of the Tenants’ and Residents’ Organisations of England, criticised the HCA for not defining ‘serious detriment’ more clearly and said he is sceptical it will ever intervene in consumer complaints.
The news that the regulator has yet to find cases of serious detriment has fuelled concerns that new tenant panels, made up of volunteers, will have a huge gap to fill following the closure of the previous regulator, the TSA, in March.
Delegates at last week’s Tenant Participation Advisory Service conference in Birmingham suggested tenants should be paid for their regulatory work, because it is turning into such a big job.
Mr Gelling said paying tenants could affect their benefit entitlement. However, not paying tenants could lead to a reduction in wages if they are working and have to take time off as result.
The HCA is also recruiting two more members to its regulatory committee. It has already appointed four members to the committee and a chair, former TSA deputy chair Julian Ashby, but left two places vacant in order to give it flexibility to adapt, which it is now seeking to fill.
A job advertisement on the Cabinet Office website says it is looking for people with experience of the capital markets or people with a legal perspective. Members will be paid £11,000 a year for working two days a month.
The closing date for applicants is 30 July.