The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) will be given the power to issue uncapped fines for registered providers in England under the proposals set out in the Social Housing White Paper published this week.
In the document the government said it will “remove the cap on the level of fines the Regulator of Social Housing is able to issue.
“This will give greater flexibility to determine the appropriate sanction depending on the circumstances and bring the regulator’s power more into line with other regulatory bodies (such as those in the finance or environment sectors).”
Currently the RSH can issue fines, subject to an upper limit of £5,000, under sections 226 to 235 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.
The move is one of a range of measures outlined in the white paper aimed at improving consumer standards in the social housing sector following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, in which 72 people were killed.
By increasing the financial sanctions available to the RSH, the government aims to bring it in line with other regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency (EA) which can issue unlimited fines.
The EA can also seek prosecution against a person or business it believes has committed a crime against the legislation it enforces.
Other plans to increase the regulator’s strength outlined in the white paper include: introducing performance improvement plans for landlords failing to comply, reducing the notice period for surveys on the condition of properties and introducing a new power to arrange emergency repairs if needed where a survey uncovers evidence of systemic landlord failures.
Social landlords will also be subject to routine inspections every four years which will consider compliance in relation to consumer standards. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has said it will be up to the regulator to decide how to conduct these alongside existing responsibilities such as In-depth assessments (IDAs).