New regulator for housing charities

Social housing charities that provide poor service to tenants could face censure from a newly established government watchdog.

The Office for Tenants and Social Landlords will support tenants in disputes with social landlords, of which about 680 are registered charities.

Under the new system, tenant groups will be able to alert the office to poor service, such as long waits for repairs. The watchdog will have the authority to impose penalties and sanctions on failing social landlords, including the power to trigger a change of management.

The office’s function is currently the responsibility of the Housing Corporation, the regulator for social landlords in England.

Yvette Cooper, the Housing Minister, said: “If housing associations are doing a good job they should have less red tape, but if tenants aren’t getting a good deal we need much stronger action.

“Social housing tenants shouldn’t have to put up with bad service from landlords. Long waits for repairs or worries about poor security can make people’s lives a misery.”

She added that the new regulator would “assess landlords’ poor performance and take action to make sure it improves”.

David Orr, chief executive of the social landlords umbrella group the National Housing Federation, said: “This is an excellent result for tenants as well as housing providers.

“We have said all along that if the Government were really committed to ensuring the highest standards for tenants, it would create a stand-alone regulator – not an add-on to another agency. We are delighted that the Government has recognised this.”

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