The government says social housing tenants will receive a fairer and better service from their housing provider, under new plans it has unveiled today.
Under the new standards, providers will need to arm their staff with the skills, experience and knowledge to deliver the excellent service that tenants want and deserve, the government claims.
A recent survey of social housing tenants showed that a quarter were not satisfied that their landlord listens to their views and acts upon them, while a third of the Housing Ombudsman’s severe maladministration findings related to poor complaint handling from social landlords.
Unacceptable behaviour will be rooted out as part of a cultural overhaul, the government says, with social landlords instructed to adopt strict code of conducts that set out how all staff should perform and act towards tenants.
Minister for Social Housing, Baroness Scott said: “Time and again we have seen tenants ignored, dismissed or not taken seriously. Our new competence and conduct standard sends a clear message to social landlords to treat tenants with the dignity and respect they deserve.
“Our landmark Social Housing Act is introducing life-changing reforms – giving tenants a louder voice to challenge their landlord and this will allow us to go further, making sure staff are properly trained and qualified to deliver homes that are safe, warm and decent.”
Evidence heard at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry exposed the concerning truth that residents did not always receive an acceptable service and were often treated with a lack of respect by members of staff.
The government says that work to address these grievances is already underway, as senior managers and executives will have their skills scrutinised closely under stricter measures and must work towards required qualifications, with all existing staff enrolled within two years under proposed new timescales.
This could include a Chartered Institute of Housing Level 4 certificate, a Level 5 Housing Diploma or in some cases a foundation degree in housing studies.
Gavin Smart, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “We welcome the government’s support for professionalism in the sector, with a focus on competency and conduct, including mandating qualifications for key senior roles. Qualifications are an effective way of ensuring professionals have the required knowledge and skills. But professionalism is more than a qualification; it’s about following a code of conduct and ethics, and displaying the right behaviours, attitudes, and empathy.”
The Social Housing (Regulation) Act is now law, meaning the Regulator of Social Housing will have greater authority to undertake more vigorous inspections of providers, and those failing to comply could lose out on future funding under the Affordable Homes Programme.
As part of wider reforms in response to the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, Awaab’s Law will set strict time limits for landlords and force them to quickly fix dangerous, including damp and mould, identified in people’s homes – with emergency hazards to be repaired within 24 hours.
The government has launched a consultation on its Competence and Conduct Standard for social housing. Click here for more.