Why are the professional standards important?

Every day, housing professionals create opportunities for people to find a home from which they can build the rest of their lives. The work we do is so important, which is why we want you to have the ability to demonstrate your professionalism and dedication to the sector using professional standards.

It also underpins the spirit of the housing regulation regimes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Professionalism is also embedded throughout the Social Housing White Paper in England. Your commitment to this will soon become the expected norm and something residents will anticipate.

Social Housing White Paper in England

In the Social Housing White Paper in England, Government makes specific reference to the behaviours and attitudes of people who work in our sector:


  • “We have heard positive experiences of landlord staff who treated residents with care and respect. But we also heard that this is not always the case, and there were incidences where people felt talked down to or ignored by staff and contractors. We want all landlord staff to act professionally, listen to their residents and, at all times, treat them with courtesy and respect.”

  • “When residents interact with landlords, they should expect and receive a professional service from competent and empathetic staff.”

  • “We want all landlord staff to act professionally, listen to their residents and, at all times, treat them with courtesy and respect.”

  • “The idea that social tenants are less worthy of respect or can be ignored when their views are inconvenient – remains all too prevalent today.”

In addition

  • The majority of complaints received by the Housing Ombudsman relate to behaviours and attitudes of staff 
  • The cause of most systemic service failures is due to lack of knowledge and inability to challenge poor decisions  
  • The Westminster/UK government acknowledged in its green paper of 2018 that stereotypes shaped by the negative language used by politicians and the media can be reinforced by the way social housing is managed and run
  • Conversations with tenants following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 emphasised the sense of ‘institutional indifference’ they can experience from staff working in housing organisations
  • The Grenfell Tower Inquiry contains numerous references to tenants being treated disrespectfully, not being listened to, and is subject to negative and false assumptions – both before and after the fire 
  • Our research with See the Person (cited in the Social Housing White Paper) found that negative assumptions made about tenants are reflected in and shape the way that tenants are treated and spoken to; at worst, that conveys contempt, an ‘us and them’ attitude, with tenants being seen as second class, both by staff at all levels and contractors. Negative treatment also reflects a failure to understand and appreciate diversity amongst tenants and respect for different cultural expectations. 

The purpose of the standards

To be the change we want to see, we must have a common purpose that celebrates our collective identity as a housing profession: an understanding of what’s important, what we stand for and what we’re trying to achieve.

By applying recognised and valued characteristics and standards into your daily roles, the whole profession gains trust and credibility.

The purpose

With this at the forefront, CIH professional standards have been designed and developed to:

  • Reflect the attitudes and behaviours that our residents and customers expect and deserve
  • Focus on behaviours and characteristics that define us as a profession
  • Be tailored and relevant specifically for people who work in housing across all tenures
  • Apply to everyone across the profession – whatever your role, position or specialism
  • Reflect the breadth and diversity of the people who work in the housing sector
  • Focus on outcomes rather than activities
  • Be simple but clear – avoiding jargon and speaking to your everyday experiences
  • Be relevant for the environment we live and work in now and in the future
  • Be adaptable to enable them to evolve and reflect a fast-changing sector
  • Inspire people to join and celebrate the value of our profession
  • Be adaptable to work alongside existing organisational competencies and values
  • Complement our existing qualifications, training and apprenticeship offer
  • Reflect the direction of travel and clear expectations in the Social Housing White Paper.

The benefits of the professional standards

The professional standards bring a wealth of benefits to you as an individual but also to your organisation. The standards will:

Highlight your purpose

  • To add value and change lives
  • To play a key role in creating a future in which everyone has a decent, secure and high-quality place to call home
  • To be a force for change across the sector.

Identify important behaviours

  • To challenge stigma and negative stereotyping
  • To understand the impact of their language, behaviour and conduct
  • To react positively to a constantly changing environment
  • To proudly stand up for what is right and do the right thing.

Give you recognition

  • Have equal credibility and status to other professions we work with
  • Be valued for your knowledge, skills and behaviours
  • Actively generate a sense of public pride in social housing, as a place to live and as a career.
Benefits for individuals

As an individual, the standards enable you to:

  • Make ethical and professional decisions
  • Drive change in your organisation
  • Progress and succeed in your career through clear progression pathways
  • Keep up to date with best practice and changes to the housing landscape
  • Network and share ideas with like-minded professionals inside and outside the sector
  • Apply your commercial and business acumen
  • Learn how to implement innovative ways of working
  • Act with increased confidence to perform at your best
  • Challenge unprofessional behaviour including bias and discrimination
  • Understand and act in line with your personal and professional values.
Benefits for organisations

Investing in the professionalism of your colleagues will:

  • Benefit both your reputation and bottom line – professional individuals make good decisions, reduce the risk of things going wrong, provide a better service to your residents
  • Offer your board assurance that your staff have the right skills, knowledge, and behaviour
  • Support you get ready for any upcoming policy landscape changes. For example, those set out in the Social Housing White Paper
  • Ensure your colleagues are always ready to meet new regulatory framework changes relevant to your nation.
Benefits for residents

For your residents, the standards can be used to:

  • Set a benchmark for the attitudes and behaviours residents should expect
  • Provide a framework for residents to challenge unacceptable and unprofessional behaviour
  • Professionalise actively engaged residents
  • Support scrutiny panels assess service delivery and improvements
  • Improve resident satisfaction against specified behavioural standards.
Other practical business benefits

From working with a variety of CIH members, housing organisations and professional bodies beyond housing during the development of the standards, investing in professional development can bring you even more benefits.

Benefits like:

  • Fewer complaints  
  • Improved customer satisfaction 
  • Getting things right first time 
  • Improved morale 
  • Confident decision making 
  • Ownership of professional development  
  • Increasing value for money, providing a return on investment in the workforce and maximising impact in the workplace 
  • Improved employee satisfaction 
  • Improved productivity and capacity 
  • More creativity and innovation  
  • Better understanding of strategic vision 
  • More engaged staff 
  • More rounded view of the housing sector
  • Reduce business risk associated with unclear decision making  
  • Ability to recruit and retain high-performing employees. 
The professional standards
Built on seven characteristics to enable you to think about your professional development needs and how you can contribute to the professionalism of your organisation and the wider sector.
Using the standards
The standards can be flexed to fit in with your own organisational values – you can use what works for you and you can apply the standards to your own professional development.
Case studies
See why and how different organisations like yours have embedded our professional standards in their organisational values, objectives, competency frameworks and development routes.
Take the self-assessment
Take some time to reflect honestly on your professional journey and think about your development needs by completing the professional standards self-assessment tool.
eLearning modules
Our short eLearning modules are here to support you in addressing gaps in your development, with an exclusive module for each of the standards and an additional introductory module on professionalism.
Continuing professional development
CPD is an ongoing, purposeful and planned learning and development process that helps you further develop as a modern housing professional.