12 Feb 2021

What the Social Housing White Paper says about: landlord performance

On 17 November the long-awaiting Social Housing White Paper – the Charter for Social Housing Residents – was published. Now that the immediate dust has settled, it’s a good time to start to unpack some of its contents and what they mean for the sector. In this blog, I’ll be focusing on some of the measures introduced in chapter two – know how your landlord is performing.

Measures in this chapter aim to 'recreate strong connections between landlords and tenants to ensure transparency and accountability and ensure all landlords consider their purpose and their tenants, at all times.'

Again, these measures have been informed by a round of ministerial discussions with residents across the country following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 and build on the satisfaction measures set out in the green paper published in 2019.

In chapter two, the government commits to:

  • Charging the regulator of social housing (RSH) to bring in a set of tenant satisfaction measures (TSMs) for all landlords on things that matter to tenants
  • Introducing a new access to information scheme for social housing tenants of housing associations and other private registered providers of social housing, so that information relating to landlords is easily accessible by tenants
  • Ensuring landlords provide a clear breakdown of how their income is being spent, including levels of executive remuneration, to be published alongside their tenant satisfaction measures.
  • Requiring landlords to identify a senior person in their organisation who is responsible for ensuring they comply with the consumer standards set by the RSH
  • Expecting landlords to report to every tenant on such matters at least once a year, if not continuously, using technology.

The draft TSMs set out in in the white paper cover:

  • Keeping properties in good repair
  • Maintaining building safety
  • Effective handling of complaints
  • Respectful and helpful engagement
  • Responsible neighbourhood management.

At the moment, there is a concern that the measures are looking at outputs, not outcomes – taking us back to the dark ages when it we measured how quickly a complaint was dealt with rather than the important matter of whether it was resolved satisfactorily.

The good news is that, in the in the main, MHCLG have delegated the development of the TSMs to the RSH. The regulator has made it clear that it intends to consult widely on the new TSMs to ensure that they truly reflect what is important to residents.

As with all performance measures – the TSMs will need to be robust and comparable – methodology will be key. Jonathan Cox from HouseMark will explore this in detail during the webinar

The White Paper also introduced an extra responsible person into the pot – focused on ensuring that the landlord complies with the consumer standards. This is a new development and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in practice. Realistically, compliance with consumer standards should be a given – but also responsibility for compliance should be the responsibility of the whole organisation – specifically the board.

In our upcoming webinar 'What does the social housing white paper say about landlord performance’ on Thursday February 18 February, I will be joined by Jonathan Cox, deputy director of data and business intelligence at HouseMark where we explore these issues in more detail. You can book your place here.

Written by Debbie Larner

Debbie Larner is head of knowledge and products at CIH.