To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the recommendation in End Our Cladding Scandal's Dereliction of Duty report, published on 20 February 2022, on strengthening the role of the Regulator of Social Housing and Housing Ombudsman to ensure that (a) housing associations are held to account for their obligations relating to building safety and (b) leaseholders are able to obtain appropriate redress in circumstances where a housing association is found to have failed to uphold those obligations; and if he will make a statement.
3 March 2022
The Regulator of Social Housing's consumer regulation function is primarily responsible for regulating landlords in their delivery of services to tenants, and in some cases shared owners. The Regulator of Social Housing does not have a legal remit on protections for leaseholders. Leaseholders in properties owned by registered providers have different arrangements than tenants - they operate under the terms of a lease rather than a tenancy agreement, which are subject to separate legal and contractual requirements.
The Housing Ombudsman Service's role is to resolve disputes involving tenants and leaseholders of social landlords (housing associations and local authorities). The Housing Ombudsman's role is set out in the Housing Act 1996 and The Housing Ombudsman Scheme approved by the Secretary of State. We have strengthened the Housing Ombudsman's powers and increased their resources to help improve performance and delivery of services. This has enabled the Housing Ombudsman to publish important work such as their Spotlight reports into leasehold, cladding, damp and mould in social housing.
Through the Building Safety Bill, we will be ensuring that building owners of higher-risk buildings have clear accountabilities for managing building safety as Accountable Persons. This will include housing associations and other social housing providers. Leaseholders and residents will have a clear voice under the new regime and will be empowered to hold their Accountable Person to account. They will have the ability to raise and escalate complaints to the Regulator of Building Safety for breach of building safety obligations. We are also laying a series of amendments to the Building Safety Bill to require that historical safety defects in any building above 11 metres or five storeys owned by a landlord associated with that developer must be fixed by them. Building owners that can afford to pay must not pass any costs relating to remediating those historical safety defects to leaseholders.