The Future of Consumer Regulation: Emphasising Proactive Compliance and Self-Regulation


The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) critical consultation on its updated statutory guidance, a response to the significant changes mandated by the Social Housing Regulation Act 2023, is due to close on 16th January 2024. It addresses the overhaul of regulatory practices, including the removal of the ‘serious detriment test’ and the introduction of new powers for the RSH. This article delves deeper than merely listing these proposed changes. Instead, it focuses on interpreting the key areas that will significantly impact providers in the wake of these imminent reforms. For a comprehensive list of the full range of changes, readers can refer to the consultation on the RSH’s website. Our discussion centres on the critical aspects that providers must be aware of as they navigate this new regulatory landscape.

The Shift in Regulation: A Proactive Stance

The upcoming removal of the ‘serious detriment test’ marks a fundamental shift from reactive to proactive regulation. This transition necessitates a deeper understanding by Registered Providers (RPs) of their responsibilities under the new framework. The test’s removal indicates a broader scope for regulatory intervention, allowing the RSH to address a wider range of issues, potentially even before they escalate.


Navigating the Nuances of Self-Referral

In the new regulatory environment, the concept of self-referral by providers is nuanced. The lack of clear guidance in the draft statutory document leaves RPs in a state of uncertainty about when and how to self-refer. This ambiguity requires RPs to exercise judicious decision-making, balancing the need for transparency with the risk of unnecessary regulatory scrutiny.

Embracing Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs)

One of the new powers available to the RSH is to impose Performance Improvement Plans on providers. However, RPs should not wait for regulatory imposition to develop and utilise PIPs. Proactively creating and implementing PIPs can be an effective self-regulatory tool, demonstrating the provider’s initiative in addressing potential issues and maintaining compliance. This approach aligns with the ethos of taking control and responsibility, essential under the new regulatory framework.

Preparing for the Changes

Providers should be preparing for the new regulatory regime by:

  • Conducting Internal Compliance Reviews: Reviews based on the new Consumer Standards will help identify potential areas of non-compliance and enable timely corrective actions.
  • Building Capacity: Training staff to understand the new standards and developing robust internal mechanisms for monitoring and assessment are key.
  • Developing Strategic PIPs: Providers should create a framework for Performance Improvement Plans as part of their ongoing operational strategy, rather than merely as a response to regulatory pressures.
  • Transparent Communication: Maintaining open channels of communication with tenants and stakeholders about the impending changes is crucial for building trust and ensuring a smooth transition.


As the social housing sector approaches a significant regulatory shift, providers must position themselves as proactive, self-regulating entities. Understanding and preparing for the key aspects of these changes, particularly the nuances of self-referral and the strategic use of Performance Improvement Plans, will be crucial. This proactive and informed approach will ensure providers are well-equipped to navigate the new regulatory landscape effectively.

We are here to support you:

In light of the pivotal changes in regulation, MSB Solicitors, led by our experienced Regulation & Governance team and spearheaded by Tom Knox, is primed to assist providers in adapting to these new requirements. Our expertise is particularly vital in several key areas:

  1. External Compliance Reviews: We can conduct comprehensive external compliance reviews, offering an objective assessment of your adherence to the evolving regulatory standards. This service is crucial, as the RSH, during their pilot consumer inspections, has shown a focus on external assurance as evidence of a provider’s commitment to compliance. Our reviews can serve as tangible evidence during RSH’s in-depth assessments.
  2. Guidance on Self-Referral: Given the ambiguity surrounding self-referral in the absence of clear statutory guidance, our team can provide nuanced advice on this critical aspect. We’ll assist in evaluating potential breaches, understanding the materiality, and making informed decisions about when to self-refer to the RSH.
  3. Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs): Our role extends to aiding providers in embracing PIPs proactively. We offer guidance on developing and implementing these plans effectively, ensuring they align with operational strategies and regulatory expectations. Our approach emphasizes not just compliance but also a strategic vision for continuous improvement and tenant welfare.

Our commitment is to equip you with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate these regulatory changes confidently, ensuring you remain proactive, compliant, and focused on delivering high-quality services.

Law is correct as at 11th January 2024

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the law in this article is correct, it is intended to give a general overview of the law for educational purposes. You are respectfully reminded that it is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No liability is accepted for any error or omission contained herein.

Contact us, we are here to help

If you have any questions, please contact Consultant Solicitor, Tom Knox, who would be happy to assist you: