A record number of registered providers breached consumer standards during the last year according to the English regulator, as it urged landlords to take tenant safety issues seriously.
The Regulator of Social Housing’s (RSH) consumer regulation review for 2019/20 found a breach of the consumer standards and serious detriment in 15 cases, its highest number to date.
During the year, it handled 597 referrals, 274 of which were considered by its consumer regulation panel, 143 where it undertook an investigation, and 15 where it published findings of a breach.
In the previous year, six landlords reached the final, most serious stage.
“While we recognise that most registered providers are well run, and this represents only a small proportion of registered providers, the number of non-compliant providers has increased significantly over the last year,” it said.
Those found in breach of various consumer regulations included Cheshire Peaks and Plains Housing Trust, which had self-referred after identifying failings in relation to fire safety, electrical safety and asbestos.
Meanwhile, Bespoke Supportive Tenancies had a number of statutory checks and risk assessments overdue in relation to gas, fire, electric, asbestos and Legionella. It had also been unable to provide assurance that statutory checks and follow-up actions had been completed by the property owners.
Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council, Runnymede Borough Council and the London Borough of Lambeth had also failed to meet health and safety requirements.
The report set out six lessons for providers. These included urging housing associations and local authorities to ensure tenants are safe by meeting all health and safety requirements, treating tenants fairly and taking into account their diverse needs, and responding to complaints from all tenants effectively, including shared owners.
The RSH also highlighted the importance of social housing providers being clear on legal and regulatory requirements, having robust governance arrangements, and having good quality data and effective systems.
Where providers are experiencing problems, the RSH noted that providers’ transparency and willingness to work with it affects the level of confidence it can have in their ability to put things right and may shape the level of intervention required from the regulator.
Fiona MacGregor, chief executive of the RSH, said: “Social housing tenants deserve a good service from their landlords and providers should identify and deliver any improvements they need to make.
“Where providers are experiencing issues, including potential breaches of consumer regulation, they should talk to us as soon as possible.”