Common Housing Register (CHR) - building a register: a practitioner's guide

A practical guide to the development of common housing registers between local authorities and registered social landlords in Scotland. The guide draws on the experience of those areas in Scotland who have successfully implemented a CHR.


Core components

The following core components should underpin a legal agreement for a CHR:

Core component


The parties

There are two main types of parties: the organisation contracted to manage the register, and the landlords joining the register. In most cases this would be the council and the RSLs.


The initial term for which the agreement will stand. It is recommended that this be at least three years for the initial contract to provide commitment, stability and sufficient investment of time and resources to establish the CHR.


The rules under which parties can resign from the register after the initial three-year period.


Each party will be held to contractual obligations under the agreement. These include contributions, policies and complaints processes (including the obligations of the party contracted to manage the register).

Liability and arrangements for default

You must ensure every partner landlord is held accountable for the component parts of the CHR. This includes staffing, compensation claims, failure to deliver targets and standards, liability of any staff employed for the purposes of delivering the CHR, and termination of any party to the agreement.

Review and audit (operations)

Audit processes and procedures ensure you are able to carry out performance review, resolve disputes, change or terminate the agreement, deal with default and liabilities, ad manage assets.


Rules must govern dispute between parties.


Contractual obligations relate to the processing of applications and the maintenance of the database. Details of the partners' expectations on quality of service can be written into service level agreements.

Financial matters

These include revenue costs, payments, budgets, VAT, arrangements for charging, collection of contributions, setting and managing budgets, and so on.


Security is maintained by compliance with data protection legislation.


Your CHR legal agreement may include the following schedules:

Performance targets and standards

This will include setting targets such as:

  • Acknowledging receipt of completed application form
  • Processing application form
  • Requests for additional information/clarification
  • Change of circumstance
  • Cancelling applications
  • Timescales for responding to verbal and written enquiries.

ICT delivery, support and security

This part of the agreement will set out the details of the service provider, the host of the system, the system specification, and management and administration of the operational system. Often detailed documentation will already exist if the software chosen to run the CHR is an add-on to an existing system. In these cases, the original documents may require only minor amendments in order to meet the partnership's legal needs. Similarly, with a bespoke system, it is possible to adapt existing documentation drawn up in the process of specifying and procuring that system.

Forms: application forms, home visit forms, etc

Once you have agreed a shared application form, it should be attached as a schedule to the legal agreement. This will ensure that all partners have made a legally binding commitment to use the common forms. If for any reason a partner continues to use their own forms without the permission of the partnership, they can be challenged. The use of a single application form is of course one of the essential components of a CHR, and it is therefore critical to ensure that the legal agreement can enforce this if necessary.

Housing advice service statement

Rather than develop a policy on delivery of housing advice within the CHR, a service statement setting out standards and any related processes could be included as a schedule attached to the legal agreement.

Procedural guidelines

It is critical to set out and agree procedural guidance prior to implementation to ensure consistency of service delivery and to hold partners accountable for poor service delivery. However you must recognise that it is inevitable that you will change some of these processes as your CHR beds in. You will want to monitor and evaluate the processes you have agreed upon and whether the procedures you have set are providing an efficient service which meets the needs and aspirations of all the partners. The procedural guidance may include some of the following:

  • Who can apply to your register?
  • The administrative process, including data capture, data input, change of circumstance, cancelling applications
  • Filing and accessing applications
  • Reviewing the register
  • Verification
  • Provision of advice and information, signposting and referral procedures
  • Health and support
  • Homes/ HEMS
  • Nominations
  • Homelessness
  • Harassment
  • Policies (shared or otherwise)
  • Access to information
  • Sharing information
  • Managing the CHR

Data protection principles

Depending upon the model of CHR you develop and how it is to be administered, you may need to register separately with the Data Protection Office. It is advisable to agree data sharing protocols for the CHR partnership to ensure consistency and accountability.

Customer care charter/complaints

Development requirements in this area will depend on the model of CHR you choose. If you opt for shared administration then it is unlikely you will need new procedures as the partners are likely to have existing procedures to which they will be held accountable. However, if you decide on centrally-based administration you will need to set procedures to which all partners agree. There are complexities around right of redress for the applicant regardless of the method of administration and it is recommended that you consult with the public ombudsman prior to implementing your CHR to ensure that you meet all your statutory obligations.

Health assessment process

The agreed process for health assessments should be included within the legal agreement, particularly where this involves contracting work.


The budget for ongoing revenue costs should be written in as a schedule to the legal agreement. The model of CHR will to a large extent influence what is included in the budget. For example, where there is a central administration unit, it will incur running costs including staffing, recruitment and training, accommodation, and office facilities. Equally, where the CHR is based on shared administration, there will have to be agreement as to how costs will be redistributed if the burden of administration falls unfairly on some organisations. Other costs which all CHRs will need to include in their budget are printing and distribution of application forms.

Performance and delivery of reports

The legal agreement should identify the detail and frequency of all reports to be produced by the CHR, as well as arrangements for provision of ad hoc reports.

Management structure/constitution

A schedule explaining how the CHR will be managed on behalf of the partnership should be included. If there is a board or committee made up of representatives of the partnership, a constitution should be agreed and included in the legal documentation. This should cover:

  • Membership and role
  • Secretariat
  • Meeting cycles
  • Voting rights
  • Standard agenda for meetings
  • Mechanisms for reporting back to other parties within the partnership

Standing orders

The partnership will be required to abide by standing orders. You may wish to consider using the standing orders of one of the CHR partner organisations rather than start from scratch on drawing up new orders. It may be sensible to amend "borrowed" standing orders to cover the early days of the operation, and then create a new set that meets the specific needs of the CHR partnership once these have become clearer after implementation.

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