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Regulation functions

Co-regulation

Co-regulation places responsibuility for meeting our regulatory standards on the landlord.  It is the principle that underpins our regulatory approach. Boards and councillors who govern providers’ service delivery are responsible for meeting the standards and being transparent and accountable for their organisation’s delivery of its social housing objectives. It is for providers to support tenants both in shaping and scrutinising service delivery and in holding boards and councillors to account. In cases where breach or potential breach of a consumer standard leads to risk of serious detriment to tenants, the HCA may intervene.  This is in addition to our proactive role in regulating the economic standards for non local authority providers.

The principles of co-regulation are as follows:

  1. Boards and councillors who govern providers are responsible and accountable for delivering their organisation’s social housing objectives

  2. Providers must meet the regulatory standards.

  3. Transparency and accountability is central to co-regulation

  4. Tenants should have opportunities to shape service delivery and to hold the responsible boards and councillors to account

  5. Providers should demonstrate that they understand the particular needs of their tenants

  6. Value for money goes to the heart of how providers ensure current and future delivery of their objectives

Economic regulation

Our approach to economic regulation is described in detail in chapter four of The regulatory framework for social housing in England from April 2012

The HCA will take a proactive approach to obtaining assurance that the economic standards are being met. The economic standards apply only to private registered providers (ie. not local authority providers). For profit making providers, regulation of the economic standards applies to the management of their affairs only so far as it relates to the provision of social housing.

Our approach recognises that boards are primarily responsible for their organisation’s performance. We will therefore seek assurance that the provider is delivering its objectives effectively and properly managing its financial and other affairs, while taking account of our statutory duty to minimise interference.           

Our approach is designed to give us adequate assurance that arrangements in the sector:

  1. protect public investment in social housing

  2. maintain confidence of private investors to invest into the sector

  3. ensure that social housing continues to be available to current and future tenants

  4. enable landlords to be able to invest in new social housing, assuming other conditions are in place

  5. are open and transparent, to allow tenants and other stakeholders to form views on and influence the services delivered by providers

  6. enable providers to meet the regulatory standards and statutory requirements

  7. deliver value for money improvements to support providers to deliver their social housing objectives

  8. protect the reputation of the sector as a whole

We require data from providers to enable us to regulate the economic standards.  From 1 April 2012, we will collect all financial and statistical data from private providers through one consolidated administrative system, NROSH+. Our data collection page details the submission requirements expected of housing associations for financial returns.

Consumer regulation

Our approach to consumer regulation is described in detail in chapter five of The regulatory framework for social housing in England from April 2012. 

While the focus of our activity is on economic regulation, we set consumer standards so that tenants, landlords and stakeholders know the outcomes that are expected.  Boards and councillors that govern providers’ services are responsible for ensuring that their organisation meets the consumer standards.

Performance issues should be resolved by providers through their complaints procedures, scrutiny arrangements and/or local routes to resolution and without reference to the regulator.  We will not proactively monitor providers’ performance or routine compliance with the consumer standards. 

Our role is limited to intervening only where failure of the consumer standard could lead to risk of serious harm, or actual serious harm, to tenants (the  serious detriment test).

Intervention and enforcement

Our approach to intervention and enforcement is described in detail in chapter six of The regulatory framework for social housing in England from April 2012. 

As regulator the HCA expects providers to identify problems and take effective action to resolve them. If a provider takes responsibility for self-improvement and we conclude that the provider has the capacity and capability to respond to any problems, then we will work with the provider to achieve the necessary corrective actions.

However, in circumstances where self-improvement has not succeeded, or where a provider is unable or unwilling to respond positively, or where we conclude that such an approach is not appropriate (for example where urgent action is necessary or there is an immediate and significant risk of serious detriment to a provider’s tenants in relation to consumer matters) we may need to consider the use of our regulatory, enforcement and general powers.

Annex B to the regulatory framework contains guidance notes on the use of the regulatory powers in chapter five, the enforcement powers in chapter six, and the general powers in chapters two and four of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, updated where necessary to reflect the provisions of the Localism Act 2011. Each guidance note sets out the scope of the power, its applicability in relation to different types of provider, the circumstances in which it might be exercised and the potential triggers to its use.

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