The chair of the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) used her keynote speech at the Social Housing Annual Conference to urge social housing landlords to focus on their two fundamental roles: to provide safe, well-maintained homes for their tenants; and provide more social homes for people who need them.

Bernadette Conroy said that the tragic case of Awaab Ishak emphasises the need for landlords to:

  • Listen to their tenants’ concerns and take appropriate action
  • Understand and take account of tenants’ diverse needs
  • Have an up-to-date and detailed understanding of the condition of tenants’ homes
  • Remove unnecessary barriers that tenants may have in accessing services and being heard.

The speech also highlighted the very challenging economic backdrop in which social landlords are operating, including high inflation, labour and material shortages, increased borrowing costs and the new rent cap.

Conroy said: “Your boards face a series of very difficult trade-offs in delivering your organisational objectives, because you must maintain your financial viability, provide quality services and keep tenants safe. It is essential that you continue to carry out robust stress testing to assess the impact of a range of severe and multiple scenarios and plan your risk mitigation strategies.”

She also pointed to the crucial role the sector plays in helping to alleviate the country’s housing shortage, by investing in much-needed new homes.

She added: “This makes you guardians of a really valuable asset, both in financial terms and to the public more generally. Your activities and investment priorities need to reflect the issues this raises.”

Conroy concluded her speech by saying: “The [regulator’s] consumer standards and the economic standards are two sides of the same coin. It is only by meeting them both that you will be able to deliver on your fundamental purpose…to provide safe, well-maintained homes for tenants and to provide more homes for those in housing need.”