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May 4, 2012 / Housing e-Academy

The beginning of a new era?

Anyone involved in the social housing sector may well be aware that, as of 1st April 2012, the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) officially ceased to exist having being replaced by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

So what does this mean?

With this change comes the introduction of a new regulatory framework. The launch of the new framework has been described as the beginning of a new era as the HCA will not be actively involved in monitoring consumer regulation. Instead, it will only become involved in cases of ‘serious detriment’.

You may then wonder…what is the definition of ‘serious detriment’? Sounds rather subjective doesn’t it? How serious is serious?

Surely then, the HCA has provided comprehensive guidelines, right? Interestingly, no.

Without a specified definition, the challenge for the regulator will be ensuring consistency in its classification of problems as a ‘serious detriment’. They may find it even trickier to convince landlords that it is right to evoke the serious detriment rule in individual cases without a definite benchmark.

When pushed for clarification of the term ‘serious detriment’ TSA director Deborah Ilott, said that ‘it (serious detriment) will refer to a breach of the standards where there is likely to be harm to tenants’.  This was followed by a comment that the serious detriment threshold will be ‘very high’, with very few cases requiring the regulator’s involvement.

The regulators refusal to clarify further is telling and it will be fascinating over the next few years to see what is meant by this phrase…

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