The Social Housing (Regulation) Bill [HL] represents part of the government’s response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy of June 2017, together with the Fire Safety Act 2021 and the Building Safety Act 2022. It follows a 2018 green paper on social housing and accompanying call for evidence on social housing regulation, and a 2020 social housing white paper. The bill is sponsored by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and was trailed in the May 2022 Queen’s Speech.

The government has said the bill will aim to facilitate a new, proactive approach to regulating social housing landlords on consumer issues such as safety, transparency and tenant engagement. This includes both private providers of social housing, such as housing associations, and local authorities, which together housed an estimated 4mn households in England in 2020/21.

The bill includes new powers for the Regulator of Social Housing which are intended to bring parity between how economic and consumer issues are regulated in the sector. In line with this approach, the bill has three core objectives:

  • to introduce a new, proactive consumer regulation regime
  • to refine the existing economic regulatory regime
  • to strengthen the sector regulator to help implement the consumer and economic regimes

Overall, the government says the bill intends to support a new regulatory regime for the social housing sector that aims to drive changes in social landlord behaviour to focus on the needs of tenants.

The Labour Party has welcomed the bill, although it has questioned the time taken between what it describes as a largely uncontroversial piece of legislation being brought forward and the earlier green and white papers being published.

The government has published explanatory notes, a delegated powers memorandum and an impact assessment to accompany the bill, alongside a press release and a ‘social housing quality’ announcement collection hub.

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