NHF warns against a ‘return to a burdensome prescriptive regulatory regime’

The National Housing Federation has set out its response to the Social Housing Green Paper.

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The National Housing Federation has said sector-led solutions are preferable to more regulation.

Responding to proposals in the Green Paper, the NHF has said “more proactive regulation on its own won’t rebalance the relationship between residents and landlords”.

Instead, it says, the Fed has been working with members and tenants to look at “changes we can make ourselves”.

The NHF believe this will “make a genuine difference and empower residents to better hold their landlord to account”.

Pointing toward their ‘Our Offer for Tenants’ project, the response says that part of the sector-led solutions would be a revision of the Code of Governance.

The ‘Our Offer for Tenants’ project includes changing leadership and culture, but the Fed “recognise the importance of having mechanisms in place” to ensure boards take this seriously.

Touching on the response to Grenfell, the Fed say they are “committed to working with our members and the government to pilot innovative new ways of communicating and engaging with residents on safety issues”.

They also give backing to a modernised and updated Decent Homes Standard, but that it should be applied to all rented properties.

Giving support for what the Housing Ombudsman put in their response, the NHF also say the service should be “properly resourced” and that the democratic filter in complaints should be removed.

The Fed are also backing A Voice for Tenants call to create an organisation that speaks up for social housing tenants on a national stage, as a way of empowering residents. They also put their support behind the See the Person campaign.

They also use the response to urge government to “show leadership and support” in tackling stigma of social housing tenants.

In a common theme in the responses, the National Housing Federation also issues concern at the introduction of league tables.

It says: “We have heard from many residents that they do not think league tables will make them feel more empowered or better equipped to hold their landlord to account.

“Residents cannot – at least not very easily – choose to move to a different landlord if a league table shows their landlord is not performing well.

“Therefore, this approach has the potential to entrench feelings of stigma among social housing residents.

“The housing association sector is diverse and many organisations were set up to respond to very specific challenges or unmet needs.

“While we are very committed to providing meaningful information to residents, and support more regulatory oversight of ‘consumer issues’, we do not think it is possible to develop an approach to league tables that will reflect resident experience, take account of local priorities and circumstances or take a broader view on how we work with our residents.”

The response raises further concerns about the links to funding and the league tables, mainly due to the concerns set out above.

But the NHF adds: “We do agree that there should be consequences if a housing association is clearly failing in its basic duty to residents, and we would strongly support action by the regulator in these instances.”

The NHF also says it is “important that the government does not seek to impose a preferred model or structure” over giving tenants control over services.

You can read the National Housing Federation’s full submission here.

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