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Does tenant involvement mean anything in an age of mergers?
Phil Morgan has a question, how serious is the social housing regulator about tenant involvement in mergers?
RUNNING alongside the previously flagged intention to introduce deregulatory measures, the Regulator is also consulting on changes to the Tenant Involvement Standard on consultation of tenants on mergers and significant changes to their management.
The current requirement for consultation of tenants of such major changes stems from feedback from tenants about the need for such consultation during mergers. This was covered in the Tenant Involvement Standard and all subsequent mergers have included consultation with their tenants as a result.
The driver for the current consultation is the removal of the constitutional consents regime as part of the deregulatory measures.
Until now part of the Regulator’s consent process was to seek reassurance about the consultation of tenants. With the removal of their decision-making role on consents by the Regulator they have taken the opportunity to clarify and strengthen rather than extend the current requirements.
Elsewhere in their correspondence with landlords the Regulator makes it clear that although the consents regime may be ending, the requirements for landlords to abide with the standards, which include the requirement to consult, will continue. It also makes clear the need for tenants to have choice and protection and the opportunity to be involved.
The proposed changes are both clarifying those requirements and in one instance deepening it by seeking evidence of how tenant views have been taken into account in making the decision. The changes themselves are not especially controversial (although some will undoubtedly wish for no consumer regulation of any kind).
The bigger challenge is for the regulator to set out how it will regulate these requirements.
As a result of the Localism Act there is an ill thought out ‘serious detriment’ bar for all consumer regulation. To date almost all action in consumer regulation has related to health and safety issues (with the exception of the Circle downgrade for poor repairs and maintenance). No downgrades or regulatory notices have been issued with regard to the Tenant Involvement Standard.
Will the Regulator make it clear under what circumstances it would regard failure to consult as worthy of regulatory action?
Phil Morgan is a leading authority in tenant and resident involvement and works as a consultant, commentator and speaker