The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has urged social landlords to “take professional advice” to make sure they understand their responsibilities around health and safety.
The message comes in the housing regulator’s sixth consumer regulation review, published this morning.
The review stresses that landlords’ responsibilities in this area are identical “whether stock is owned, managed or leased”, adding that they need to know what statutory responsibilities fall to them.
It warns that breaches of the consumer standards as a result of falling short of health and safety requirements “have a greater potential to meet the serious detriment test”.
The regulator added that the review – and its key messages – came in the context of last summer’s Grenfell Tower fire, which it said has led to an increased level of additional work being carried out by providers.
The review said: “Through our regular engagement, it was evident that the sector was aware of the need to manage health and safety as a key risk.
“Nevertheless, it is clear that events at Grenfell Tower have further focused attention on ensuring tenants are safe in their homes and compliance with statutory health and safety requirements.
“This is demonstrated by an increased level of additional work being carried out and assurance sought by providers on all aspects of health and safety.”
It also warned landlords to keep in place “robust systems” to make sure they were compliant with standards, adding that they retain responsibility even for services that are contracted out to third parties.
There are four consumer regulation standards: the Home Standard, the Tenancy Standard, the Neighbourhood and Community Standard, and the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard.
In its review of its case work in 2017/18, the regulator said it had issued four regulatory notices in relation to the Home Standard. One of these, issued to Central & Cecil Housing Trust, was in relation to fire safety. Two notices related to gas safety, while another related to both electrical safety and legionella.
The last of these, to Raven Housing Trust, marked the first time a regulatory notice had been issued over legionella.
The regulator said: “The case demonstrates that risks to tenants can arise in a range of ways and it is important that registered providers clearly understand their responsibilities in this area.”
This year also marked the first time that the regulator had found a breach of its Tenancy Standard in relation to tenants being evicted without sufficient notice by Midlands landlord WM Housing Group.
WM saw its governance rating downgraded from G1 to G2 as a result of the case, but it has since been upgraded to G1 following a review of operations.
Overall, the regulator received slightly more consumer referrals in 2017/18 than in the previous year, with the number rising from 532 to 543.
However, only 77 investigations were carried out compared to 105 in 2016/17, and there were just five published findings of breaches of standards, down from seven the previous year.