Speaking at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations’ (GWSF) annual conference last week, George Walker, the Scottish Housing Regulator’s chair, reflected on the impact of the recent inflation figures.
George said: “You’ll know that inflation rose recently to 3%, the highest rate for more than five years. Most tenants in employment have seen earnings rise at rates either below inflation or indeed, not at all. Tenants on benefits have had to manage freezes on the uplift in benefit rates and the introduction of caps.”
George highlighted feedback from the Regulator’s National Panel of Tenants and Service Users, noting that two thirds of the Panel have concerns about future rent affordability.
He explained to delegates what the Regulator expects of landlords: “We look for you to consider tenants’ ability to keep paying rent in the longer term when setting rents. You should demonstrate transparency on costs and a vigorous pursuit of value for money to us and to tenants.
“We expect you to give tenants genuine options and choices during rent consultations and have a dialogue about costs versus service levels. Be clear on how you will take tenants’ views into account. And vitally, be clear on what is affordable for your tenants now and in the future.”
In a wide-ranging speech, George commended delegates on the achievements of community-led housing associations. He also trailed the Regulator’s forthcoming review of its regulatory framework. Tenant and resident safety, empowering tenants, homelessness, and the need for strong, effective governance will all be prominent in the Regulator’s conversations.