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John Healey: New standards for tenants in public housing come into force

Published 1 April 2010

All 8 million social housing tenants will be guaranteed clear standards of service from their landlord from today as new regulations from the Tenant Services Authority come into force.

The move was welcomed by Housing Minister John Healey who said it would give tenants a clear guide as to what they can expect from their landlord, backed up by a regulator with powers to act on those landlords who don't deliver a decent service.

The standards will require landlords to agree specific local service offers with their tenants to ensure that top concerns are taken into account. This could mean tenants agreeing with their landlords target response times for routine repairs, the right to choose a convenient time to have work done or priorities for neighbourhood improvements.

The Tenant Services Authority's new regulatory framework for social housing in England outlines the requirements that will apply across all council and housing associations landlords from 1 April. It sets six new national standards that will improve levels of service to tenants while also protecting public investment in affordable housing.

The national standards the TSA will be enforcing are based on what tenants have said are top priorities for them, such as repairs, maintenance, and anti-social behaviour. The six standards include;

  • Tenant involvement and empowerment
  • Quality of accommodation (incorporating the existing Decent Homes Standard)
  • Neighbourhood and community (including requirements on anti-social behaviour)

Mr Healey said that the TSA's regulatory standards would be vital in ensuring that homes that have been upgraded through the Decent Homes programme would remain at that standard. Since 1997 over £33bn has been invested to improve the quality of life of millions of people, with new kitchens, new bathrooms, new central heating systems or other improvements being installed in over 1.5 million homes. The Government is committed to completing its Decent Homes programme.

John Healey said:

"The TSA's new standards, backed up by a wide range of enforcement powers, will guarantee all 8 million social housing tenants clear standards of service they can expect from their landlord.

"The Decent Homes programme, backed by £33 billion investment, means 3 million tenants' homes have been upgraded, and the TSA's work will make sure they stay that way for the future. "

The standards come into force just days after John Healey offered councils a far reaching new deal giving them the freedom to fund and run their council homes, devolved from Central Government. The deal means councils will take on the funding, management and standards of council housing as well as ensuring that there is enough money in the system to maintain the homes at the decent homes standard, alongside the scope to build at least 10,000 new council homes a year in the next Parliament.

TSA Chief Executive Peter Marsh said:

"Today is a landmark for the social housing sector with a new system of regulation that will touch the lives of over eight million tenants. For the first time, tenants will have opportunities, backed by the regulator, to influence the services that most affect them and hold their landlords to account."

Where national standards are not met, TSA will work with landlords and tenants to improve performance. Where necessary, the TSA will be able to use new enforcement powers to ensure that tenants get a good service. These can include issuing enforcement notices or even transferring the management of properties to another provider. In addition, housing associations can face fines or be forced to pay compensation to their tenants.

Notes to editors

1. The Tenant Services Authority is the independent social housing regulator that was established by Government in 2008, in line with the recommendations of Professor Martin Cave's review of social housing regulation.

2. Full details of the TSA's new regulatory framework are available on its website: www.tenantservicesauthority.org (external link)

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