Friday, January 26, 2007

Housing associations - Is self-regulation by the NHF enough?

This week's Inside Housing reports that National Housing Federation wants housing associations to self-regulate through new codes of conduct.

I believe that the regulatory burden should be eased - with more reliance on (rigorous) self-regulation and with more focus on outcomes (rather than processes). However I have some concerns about the NHF approach.

I doubt that self-regulation and codes of conduct will be enough to satisfy lenders - they place reliance on the current regulatory regime (and the lower perceived risk results in cheaper borrowing for new and improved homes).

I value the NHF as an organisation (and I am looking forward to next week's Board Members' Conference). However, I fear that they will be accused of self-interest. The self-regulation may look like (and be) a closed shop - with new power and resources for the organisation.

To be fair to NHF, the article does not report any of the NHF's thinking about enhanced accountability to residents in self-regulation. (The role of residents' scutiny panels is mentioned in passing in the editorial.) This is a crucial element.

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