Where to Start in Closing the Compliance Gap

Alex McLean, Head of Compliance at Osborne, discusses that often overwhelming task faced by many social landlords in closing their compliance gap.

The fact that there’s a significant compliance gap for many large social landlords is well known. Recent high-profile cases involve a local authority with over 900 electrical safety and 500 water safety checks outstanding. There was also an authority prosecuted because of multiple unfit homes with serious damp and mould problems.

It is not surprising getting to 100% compliance, 100% of the time can feel overwhelming. There are so many regulations and laws that come under the umbrella of compliance. The Landlord and Tenant Act, Health and Safety Legislation and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act will shortly be joined by the Building Safety Bill. Looking ahead there will be minimum energy efficiency standards in response to the move to net zero carbon by 2050.

Compliance affects heating, water, fire safety and electrical systems, as well as ventilation and building fabric (e.g., asbestos).

Many large social housing providers will have multiple organisations carrying out activities related to safety and compliance. There’s a great deal of information to coordinate to get a comprehensive and reliable overview of compliance.

While it’s not acceptable, it’s easy to understand how vital checks and audits can be missed. The powers that will be given to tenants and the regulator when the Building Safety Bill becomes law will add to the pressure to urgently build a watertight compliance regime.

There’s no doubt that compliance gaps were worsened by Covid. But it’s unlikely that all are the result of the pandemic-related disruption to property services.

The accuracy of stock condition data rose significantly in importance in the Sector Risk Profile following Grenfell. The tragedy caused many housing providers to question how well they understood their current stock.  Many have found significant gaps and inaccuracies in their data and assumptions.

Compliance checks generate a vast amount of data for large social housing providers to manage. This burden will be added to by net zero initiatives. When information comes from multiple sources, in inconsistent formats, just collating the data is a difficult task.

Getting the data under control is the first step towards 100% safety compliance, 100% of the time. This requires the capability to take data feeds from multiple sources, extract key data, and present consolidated data in a clear format that highlights compliance gaps. With well-organised and reliable data, social landlords can stop working in the dark. The risk of vital safety checks being missed will be drastically reduced. An asset management strategy can then be built around accurate and consistent data.

For more information, please contact Alex McLean Alex.McLean@osborne.co.uk or visit our resource centre.