Reshaping consumer regulation in social housing

Registered Providers should act now in response to the Regulator of Social Housing’s White Paper, or risk falling behind the curve.

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) recently published its initial thoughts on how to improve consumer standards and what a reshaped regulatory framework may look like. The document, titled ‘Reshaping consumer regulation: Our principles and approach’, lays out the RSH’s preliminary plans on how it will implement the changes to consumer regulation proposed in the Social Housing White Paper, which was published in July 2020.

The new document sends a clear message to all social landlords (whether registered providers, ALMOs, or local authorities) to start taking action now, rather than waiting for the White Paper to be written into law, and risk leaving registered providers (RPs) behind the curve.

It appears a step-change in the resident/landlord relationship is on the horizon. One of the primary changes proposed by the White Paper focused on giving RSH the ability to take a proactive approach to consumer regulation, focusing on providing safe homes, quality services and treating residents with respect.

A highlight of the update was confirmation that the Consumer Standards are going to be reviewed and updated in line with the focus of the White Paper. Six key themes for Consumer Standards going forward were identified, with a planned consultation following the passing of the White Paper:

  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Neighbourhood
  • Transparency
  • Engagement & accountability
  • Tenancy

Four primary methods to move to a proactive monitoring programme are being considered as part of the approach: 


Consumer inspections – both reactive and proactive engagements, actively considering landlords’ evidence of meeting the new Consumer Standards. 

Reactive engagements – similar to the current approach and includes responsive follow-ups where there are reports of standards being breached

Desktop reviews – increasing the review of information from landlords on areas such as tenant satisfaction, performance from a range of sources.

Data returns – the RSH has highlighted that it will further increase the amount of information that is gathered through the means of monitoring the Economic Standards.

It will take time to be implemented, as consultations needs to be undertaken and the government needs to pass primary legislation, but the RSH’s direction of travel is clear. Non-Executives, Executives and all those charged with governance at RPs (including Councillors, Trustees and independent appointees), should take notice of the message: start making changes to your operations now, don’t wait for the new legislation.

Our specialist social housing team are always available to talk to you about consumer regulation, tenant safety, tenant engagement and best practice guidance on all of the themes presented in the Social Housing White Paper. 

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If you have any queries or would like to discuss the details, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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