Social Housing Regulation Bill- what you need to know
1 January 2023
This article was first published on the Batchelor’s Solicitors website prior to its merger with Birketts.
Details of the much-anticipated Social Housing Regulation Bill (the Bill) have now been published and outline many new measures, which include a new ‘Ofsted-style’ inspection for social landlords.
The purpose of the Bill is to give the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) stronger powers to drive up standards and regularly inspect landlords on things, such as health and safety and repairs within their properties.
At the launch of the proposals, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “We are driving up the standards of social housing and giving residents a voice to make sure they get the homes they deserve”.
This package of measures is part of wider moves by the Government to crack down on poorly performing landlords, which also includes new measures targeted at the Private Rented Sector via the separate Renters Reform Bill.
These proposals together are aimed at enhancing the standard of all types of rented housing across England and providing better living conditions for tenants.
To give you a better appreciation of the Bill, here are some of the key changes to be aware of:
- Advisory panel – The RSH will create an advisory panel to provide information and advice on anything related to its work that “could have a significant impact” on social landlords or the provision of social housing.This will be made up of social housing tenants, social landlords and their lenders, councils, the Greater London Authority (GLA), Homes England and the housing secretary.
- New inspections – The regulator will be able to conduct inspections with only 48 hours’ notice, instead of the current period of 28 days given to landlords. This new style of inspection is said to have a similar style to the Ofsted reviews conducted at schools and will be more rigorous than before. If entry is refused, then the RSH could apply for a warrant to use force, if necessary, and it will become an offence to stop an inspector from entering a property.
- Improving performance – Social landlords will be issued performance improvement plan notices where they fail to meet the necessary standards, are at risk of failing the standards or fail to provide information to the RSH. Landlords will need to prepare a plan and a response outlining how they will improve their property, which can also be subject to requests from tenants to see the plan. Where plan notices are not complied with, landlords may face enforcement action or a fine, and/or have to pay compensation. These notices will be open to appeal via the High Court within 28 days of them being issued.
- Emergency remedial action – The regulator will also be given the power to conduct emergency works on properties, for which the social landlord will be financially liable. These can be carried out once a survey finds that the property is below standards and could cause “an imminent risk of serious harm”.
They can also be carried out if a social landlord has failed to comply with an enforcement notice ordering it to carry out works. Warrants can also be used by the regulator where they are not granted access to conduct works. Landlords will only have 28 days to pay the regulator for the emergency works and any other costs related to them.
If you have concerns about any of the points included within the Social Housing Regulation Bill or need guidance on complying with its requirements once it is introduced, please contact us.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at January 2023.