The Social Housing (Regulation) Bill received its first reading in Parliament on 8th June following its inclusion in the Queen’s Speech.

The aim of the Bill is to have more people living in decent, well looked-after homes and to redress the balance between landlord and tenant.   The Regulator of Social Housing will have stronger powers to issue unlimited fines, enter properties at short notice and ensure emergency repairs are carried out.

Provisions in the Bill include:

  • The Regulator’s powers to act will be strengthened and social housing landlords could face unlimited fines for breaches of standards.
  • The serious detriment test will be removed making it easier for the Regulator to tackle poor standards.
  • Safety has been added to the Regulator’s fundamental objectives.
  • The Regulator will be required to set up an advisory panel to include representatives of social housing tenants and social landlords.
  • The Regulator will have the power to issue social landlords with ‘performance improvement plan notices’ if they fail to meet standards.
  • Tenants will be put on a level playing field with the ability to hold landlords to account through a focus on transparency and provision for an access to information scheme similar to Freedom of Information.
  • Social landlords will be subject to ‘Ofsted-style’ inspections
  • The government will ‘name and shame’ landlords who fall below standards.

The Bill forms a key part of the government’s mission to level up across the country, with steps to halve the number of poor-quality rented homes by 2030 and redressing the balance of power between landlord and tenant.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said “We are driving up the standards of social housing and giving residents a voice to make sure they get the homes they deserve. That is levelling up in action.”

Tenants will also have a direct line to government, with a new 250-person residents panel convening every 4 months to share their experiences with ministers, inform policy thinking and help drive change in the sector.

At the same time that the Bill had its first reading, DLUHC opened a consultation on introducing electrical safety standards to the social housing sector. Proposals include mandatory checks on electrical installations at least every five years for rented and leasehold properties, and mandatory portable appliance testing (PAT) on all electrical appliances that are provided by social landlords.