An Open Letter For Real Regulation In Social Housing

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The Scottish Government is consulting on its Social Housing Charter.  This document sets out 'Outcomes' that the Government believes all social housing providers will meet.  The present version was adopted in 2017, and the Government is asking tenants about a new version.  The problem? --  The 'Outcomes' are a fantasy! 


Despite almost every Housing that Living Rent has had dealings with failing many of the 'Outcomes' there has been no regulatory action whatever.  The Charter acts as a bureaucratic and administrative convenience for official Scotland to wash its hands of the many and varied problems with the delivery of social housing in the country.  This MUST change.  That is why Living Rent is seeking"a long term strategy for the regulation of the sector. We want to work with the government and the Scottish Housing Regulator to create a fit for purpose regulatory framework, and we are feeding in to this consultation response with an open letter, as well as a detailed submission.  If you agree with us, please sign our open letter.

Tenants across Scotland say:-

"Rents have risen consistently year on year, often above inflation as the Scottish Housing Regulator acknowledges. Tenants cannot continue to accept such rises. The pandemic is also making many tenants suffer"
"my windows are terrible the draft that comes in them is a disgrace I have to sleep with a jacket on disgrace"
"The rent has gone up considerably since I moved into my property. The whole block has no access to the outside space because it is completely overgrown and pretty unsafe. The communal stairwell is in a state of disrepair with pealing paint, damp issues and very dirty. Rent is increasing every year and to have another rent increase during a pandemic is completely wrong. Most people in social housing tend to be working class and on low incomes. Ridiculous"
[^From Living Rent research]

OPEN LETTER: There is little evidence that the charter has improved outcomes for tenants.

Extensive qualitative and quantitative evidence of nearly 600 tenants across Scotland, collected by Living Rent show instead that (1) services have deteriorated, (2) tenant rents have increased beyond inflation in four of the last five years, and social housing rents have increased at a similar rate to widely criticised increases in PRS rents (3) regulations have been routinely ignored by social landlords with zero regulatory action, exacerbated by the failed system of self regulation and self reporting of social landlords.

In tandem with these increasing failures, Living Rent notes (4) that tenant participation has declined in many places to less than that seen in much of the private rented sector. Given the substantial public subsidy that social landlords attract through Housing Benefit and Universal Credit recipients, and through Affordable Housing Supply Grant for new build social housing, this is both a significant failure and a departure from the positive vision of the 2001 Housing Act through to the latest iteration of the Social Housing Charter in terms of contiguous government policy.

Across every charter indicator it has been shown that self regulation and light touch regulation has failed the Social Housing Charter Outcomes. Nowhere are they observed. They are at best an administrative convenience and a bureaucratic fantasy.  There is an urgent need for a root and branch review of the regulation of social housing.

What is now clear is that tenants are enormously dissatisfied with social housing landlords.  This pattern is true across the country. Yet no regulatory action ever ensues.  As social landlords have raised their rents above inflation annually, ignored or belittled obligations for tenant participation, ignored even statutory standards (SHQS, EESSH), while misreporting on these failures, there has been no progress on regulatory control of these rogue landlords.

We need a long term strategy for the regulation of the sector. Living Rent commits to working with the government and the Scottish Housing Regulator to create a fit for purpose regulatory framework. Currently, from the perspective of tenants, the charter system is visibly failing at every level.

Add your name to this open letter to show that you agree with Living Rent’s demands.

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