Written evidence submitted by Mr Liam Kelly [RSH 096]
The current regime for regulating social housing fit NOT for purpose
The Grenfell Inquiry has clearly shown how the regulator was not fit for purpose. It is a very tedious task for residents to navigate their landlord’s complaint procedures. Many give up in despair. Social landlords since 2010 have abandoned pro active resident engagement. I have been a tenant of Guinness Trust (now Guinness Partnership) for 27 years and been actively involved with tenant association on the estate where I live in Hackney.
I have also worked in social housing for 20 years for housing association and local authority.
The change in the regulatory regime (i.e. Self regulation) introduced by the Coalition Govt resulted in a tremendous reduction in the ability of tenants to hold their landlord to account. Among the factors that created the serious decrease in genuine landlord/tenant engagement was the removal of the specific role of resident engagement staff within social landlords-instead the role became an ancillary addition to the housing officer’s role and the cancellation of specific resident engagement budgets within landlords business plans to facilitate and recompense residents for giving voluntary time to engage in establishing and maintaining resident associations.
If this government is serious about resolving the state of affairs that enabled Grenfell there needs to be more resources in external regulation of the sector and an obligation placed on landlords to objectively demonstrate active resident engagement evidenced by genuine empowerment of resident associations. This could be achieved by giving the right to manage to housing association tenants which exists for local authority secure tenancies.
The shutting down of the Audit Commission was another major mistake and this also needs urgent review.