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A guide to the new consumer standards regulations for housing providers – Neighbourhood and Community Standard

Posted: 08/04/2024

The new Neighbourhood and Community Standard (NCS) came into force on 1 April 2024, replacing the previous standard of the same name.

The primary focus for housing providers ever since the first introduction of the Addison Act 1919 has been to increase the number of homes available for families. Alongside this main objective is the expectation to manage the neighbourhoods that the properties are in, and to drive a sense of community. The new consumer standards continue to capture this within the NCS.

The new NCS does not contain any radical changes from the previous standard, and even the name has remained the same. This article will explore the main differences between the new NCS and the old NCS, and outlines some of the steps that registered providers (RPs) may need to take to comply with these new standards.

Safety of shared spaces

The new NCS refers to ‘shared spaces’ rather than ‘communal areas’, and this now covers a wider area than before. An RP is now expected to look after spaces which they are not legally responsible for, but are integral to the community, such as communal play areas.

Local cooperation

RPs will need to engage with relevant partners to promote three core values: social, environmental, and economic wellbeing. The expectation is that tenants will be consulted in ensuring RPs are achieving these values. It is worth noting that this, along with the obligation to look after shared spaces and the new domestic abuse requirement (see below), increases the obligations imposed on RPs and extends beyond the mere provision of housing.

Anti-social behaviour and hate incidents

RPs will be required to have a policy in place to deter and tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) and hate crimes in neighbourhoods where social housing is provided, and which will need to be communicated to all tenants. This policy should also include ways tenants can seek the necessary support and assistance, which may include signposting them to agencies. RPs will have to publish data as part of the tenant satisfaction measures on anti-social behaviour cases and tenant’s satisfaction with their landlord’s approach, in a drive to increase transparency. 

Domestic abuse

This is a new requirement under the new consumer standards, following research identifying that landlords are able to identify early signs of domestic abuse, and should provide a role in supporting victims. RPs must now have a policy setting out how they will respond to cases of domestic abuse within their properties, and outline the support and advice available to the victims. RPs must also co-operate with local authority departments to support them in developing a strategy and commissioning services for victims of domestic abuse and their children within safe accommodation.

What should RPs be doing?

It is recommended that RPs do the following:

  • identify those shared spaces that are relevant to their properties, and assess what they could do better and what needs to be done, keeping a clear record;
  • engage with tenants in respect of the local area, enable them to voice their views, and enable those opinions to be analysed, considered, and where required, acted upon, and keep records on how their views have been acted upon;
  • ensure they have clear lists and contact details for organisations that can assist with ASB, hate crimes, and domestic abuse, and work with those organisations, ensuring staff know how to signpost tenants to the appropriate agencies;
  • assess skills of staff and whether specialist training is required, in particular for domestic abuse cases.

For further information on this topic, please contact Caroline Leviss or Hugo Stephens.

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