13/11/2023

Preparing for new standards for social housing tenants – can you help?

Hightown resident and her two children smiling and playing in the living area.

Like all social housing landlords, Hightown has to comply with strict standards which are set by the Regulator of Social Housing. The Regulator has now been granted new legal powers to ensure that the voice of residents of social housing is central to services provided by social landlords.

As part of these new powers, The Regulator is creating four new “consumer standards” and a code of practice to set out what social landlords must do. These standards have been drafted and cover the following themes:

  • The Safety and Quality Standard (which covers providing safe, good quality homes and effective landlord services)
  • The Transparency, Influence and Accountability Standard (which covers treating tenants with fairness and respect, providing services that meet tenants' needs, complaints, tenants' influence on decision making, landlord performance and holding their landlord to account)
  • The Neighbourhood and Community Standard (which sets out working in partnership with other organisations to help make sure tenants live in safe, well maintained neighbourhoods)
  • The Tenancy Standard (which covers allocating and letting homes fairly, and how landlords manage and end tenancies)

In preparation for these new standards, we have carried out a self-assessment to identify any gaps that we will need to address. The findings of the self-assessment will inform our priorities for ensuring full compliance from April 2024, when the new consumer standards will come into effect. We are already working on addressing our findings, with plans to improve our stock quality data, and enhance our approach to resident engagement, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

How do these standards work and why do they matter? 

An example:

One of the new requirements in the draft Neighbourhood and Community Standard is for social landlords to work co-operatively with other agencies tackling domestic abuse and enable tenants to access appropriate support and advice.

We take domestic abuse very seriously, and have a policy and procedure in place to ensure that we provide services to support tenants experiencing domestic abuse. We have dedicated staff within the housing team who are trained to support with domestic abuse cases, working closely in partnership with other agencies such as local authorities, the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) and domestic abuse support agencies. We also took part in a pilot with the Refuge support charity for one of their Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVA) to work from our office one day per week to provide additional specialist support.

Earlier this year, Refuge carried out an independent review of our domestic abuse service which was commissioned by our Residents Voice and Scrutiny Panel. The review found that our policies and procedures reflect legislation and best practice in tackling domestic abuse, highlighted our involvement with local and national domestic abuse organisations, and our proactive approach to seeking service improvements.

We are committed to working closely in partnership with other agencies to ensure that we meet the requirements of the new Neighbourhood and Community Standard. Outside of domestic abuse, we work with local authorities and the police through community safety partnerships to contribute to safe and well maintained neighbourhoods, and have part funded a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) for our properties in Hemel Hempstead town centre since 2019. The Residents Voice and Scrutiny Panel have recently commissioned an independent service review of our anti-social behaviour service, which is in progress. We will be setting up and Anti-Social Behaviour Scrutiny group in the new year, which will give residents the opportunity to further review and scrutinise our work on anti-social behaviour to inform further service improvements.

If you would like to be involved with contributing to improving how we work, or any of our other opportunities to give feedback on our services, please email involve@hightownha.org.uk or visit our resident involvement page.