1 Status of the Charter
1.1 As required by section 31 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010, the Scottish Ministers, in this Scottish Social Housing Charter, set the standards and outcomes that all social landlords should aim to achieve when performing their housing activities.
1.2 The first Charter came into effect on 1 April 2012 and was reviewed during 2016. This revised Charter was approved by resolution of the Scottish Parliament on 8th February, has effect from 1 April 2017 and continues to apply until the Parliament approves a further revised Charter.
1.3 Before submitting the revised Charter to the Scottish Parliament for approval, and as required by section 33 of the 2010 Act, the Scottish Ministers consulted the Scottish Housing Regulator; tenants in social housing and their representative bodies; social landlords; homeless people; and other stakeholders about the Charter's contents. They have taken account of all their views to ensure that the outcomes in the Charter:
- describe the results that tenants and other customers expect social landlords to achieve
- cover social landlords' housing activities only
- can be monitored, assessed and reported upon by the Scottish Housing Regulator.
1.4 The Charter does not replace any of the legal duties that apply to social landlords, but in several cases the outcomes describe the results social landlords should achieve in meeting their legal duties.
2 Purpose of the Charter
2.1 The Charter helps to improve the quality and value of the services that social landlords provide, and supports the Scottish Government's long-term aim of creating a safer and stronger Scotland. It does so by:
- stating clearly what tenants and other customers can expect from social landlords, and helping them to hold landlords to account
- focusing the efforts of social landlords on achieving outcomes that matter to their customers
- providing the basis for the Scottish Housing Regulator to assess and report on how well landlords are performing. This assessment enables the Regulator, social landlords, tenants and other customers to identify areas of strong performance and areas needing improvement.
2.2 The Regulator's reports also help the Scottish Government to ensure that public investment in new social housing goes only to landlords assessed as performing well.
3 Scope and content of the outcomes and standards
3.1 The Charter has seven sections covering: equalities; the customer/landlord relationship; housing quality and maintenance; neighbourhood and community; access to housing and support; getting good value from rents and service charges; and other customers. It contains a total of 16 outcomes and standards that social landlords should aim to achieve. The outcomes and standards apply to all social landlords, except that number 12 applies only to councils in relation to their homelessness duties; and number 16 applies only to councils and registered social landlords that manage sites for Gypsy/Travellers.
3.2 Each section is accompanied by a short description of the context of the outcome or standard, including the areas of activity to which it applies and any relevant legal duties connected with it. The description is not part of the outcome, and does not tell social landlords how to achieve it. That is a matter for each landlord to decide in consultation with its tenants and other customers.
3.3 During the Charter review, many stakeholders said that all the standards and outcomes should be reflected across the whole of a landlord's activities. For example, the communication outcome requires landlords to manage their businesses so that tenants and other customers find it easy to communicate with their landlord and get the information they need about their landlord. This information would include how and why their landlord makes decisions and provides its services; how it communicates its plans for providing repairs, maintenance and improvements; how it provides information on housing options; and how it helps tenants sustain their tenancy.
4 Assessing social landlords' achievement of the outcomes
4.1 Social landlords are responsible for meeting the standards and outcomes set out in the Charter. They are accountable to their tenants and other customers for how well they do so. They should ensure their performance management and reporting systems show how well they are achieving the outcomes; identify any areas where they need to improve; and enable them to report to their tenants and other customers and the Scottish Housing Regulator.
4.2 Under the 2010 Act, the Scottish Housing Regulator is responsible for monitoring, assessing and reporting on how well social landlords, individually and collectively, achieve the Charter's outcomes.
5 Reviewing and revising the Charter
5.1 Unless stakeholders raise urgent and significant concerns about how the Charter is working in practice, the Charter will apply for five years from 1 April 2017. In consultation with stakeholders, the Ministers will review its effect during 2021 on the quality and value of social landlords' services, and its value to tenants and other customers, social landlords and the Scottish Housing Regulator.
Email: Michael Boal
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