The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has today published its plan for the roll out of the new consumer regulation regime and inspection programme.

The plan sets out the steps RSH is taking to get ready for the landmark Social Housing Regulation Bill, which has nearly finished its passage through Parliament.

The legislation will bring about one of the most fundamental changes to social housing regulation for over a decade. It will set new expectations on the services that landlords need to provide for their tenants, introduce regular consumer inspections of social landlords and give RSH stronger powers to hold landlords to account.

The regulator’s implementation plan describes the progress it has already made in gearing up for new consumer regulation, as well as the next steps over the coming year. Subject to the Bill being passed in early 2023 and receiving the necessary directions from government, RSH expects to implement the new approach from April 2024.

The new approach will include inspecting all large social landlords against the new standards, including housing associations and local authorities, every four years. These inspections will build on the regulator’s experience in carrying out its intensive and challenging in-depth assessments for economic regulation.

To help test the new inspection regime, the regulator has launched a pilot inspection programme. The social landlords included in the initial wave are Bernicia Homes, Brunelcare, Cheshire Peaks and Plains, Eastbourne Borough Council, Folkestone and Hythe Borough Council, Guinness Housing Association and Torus.

To prepare for new consumer regulation, RSH has engaged with thousands of tenants to understand the issues that matter most to them, and used this feedback to inform the emerging plans.

It has also published the Tenant Satisfaction Measures that landlords will need to collect from April 2023. This followed extensive consultation, with over 1,000 responses (55% of which were from tenants).

In addition, it has undertaken a major recruitment drive to build additional capacity in the teams that will deliver new consumer regulation. Further recruitment will take place after the Bill has been passed by Parliament.

The next steps over the coming year include consulting with tenants, landlords and other stakeholders on the consumer standards. RSH plans to launch the consultation by summer 2023.

Fiona MacGregor, Chief Executive of RSH, said: “We are making significant progress in gearing up for new consumer regulation, which will empower tenants and give us stronger powers to hold landlords to account.

“It is vital that landlords get ready now. Tenants deserve quality services from their landlords, and homes that are safe and of a decent standard. Where there are issues, landlords should act to put things right – before we start carrying out our consumer inspections”.