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Housing and Regeneration Act 2008

Section 199 - Survey

565.Subsection (1) specifies that this section applies where the regulator suspects that a registered provider is failing to maintain the premises to be surveyed, in accordance with standards, as specified under sections 193 or 194 of this Part.

566.Subsection (2) gives the regulator the power to arrange for the survey of the condition of identified homes by a person authorised by it.

567.Subsection (3) defines “authorised person” for the purposes of subsection (2) as a member of the regulator’s staff or any other person who has been authorised in writing by the regulator for the purposes of carrying out a survey under this power.

568.Subsection (4) provides that the authorised person may enter the premises at any reasonable time to carry out the survey.

569.Subsection (5) specifies that the authorised person must give the registered provider a minimum of 28 days’ notice of the survey.

570.Subsection (6) requires that the registered provider who has received the notice required under subsection (5) must then give each occupier of the premises to be surveyed a minimum of 7 days’ notice of the survey.

571.Subsection (7) requires the authorised person to provide a written report of their survey.

572.Subsection (8) requires the regulator to provide the registered provider of the premises surveyed with a copy of the report produced under subsection (7).

Section 200 - Survey: supplemental

573.Subsection (1) provides that the authorised person carrying out the survey, or seeking entry to the premises to carry out the survey must, when requested by the occupier, provide to that person a copy of the authorisation to carry out the survey.

574.Subsection (2) provides that the regulator may require the registered provider to pay some or all of the costs of the survey and the report.

575.Subsection (3) specifies that a registered provider who fails without a reasonable excuse to comply with the requirement to give occupiers due notice of a survey under section 199 subsection (6) commits an offence. Similarly, a registered provider or an officer of a registered provider who obstructs an authorised person exercising the power to survey premises under section 199 also commits an offence.

576.Subsection (5) specifies that a person guilty of offences under subsections (3) or (4) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 (currently £1000) on the standard scale.

577.Subsection (6) provides that proceedings for an offence under this section may only be brought by or with the consent of either the regulator or the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Section 201 - Inspection

578.Subsection (1) allows the regulator to arrange for a person to inspect a registered provider’s performance in relation to provision of social housing or its financial and other affairs.

579.Subsection (2) prohibits the person appointed from being a member of the regulator’s staff.

580.Subsection (3) requires that where the purpose of an inspection is to assess a registered provider’s performance by reference to standards under section 193 (that is, in relation to management of social housing), the regulator must invite the Audit Commission to carry out the inspection. The regulator may appoint any person it wishes if the Audit Commission declines, or for inspections whose purpose is not as set out in subsection (3).

581.Subsection (4) specifies that the regulator may direct the person carrying out an inspection to discontinue it.

582.Subsection (5) provides that an inspection may either be general or specific.

583.Subsection (6) requires that the regulator reimburse costs incurred by the Audit Commission in carrying out an inspection.

584.Subsection (7) specifies that if a person other than the Audit Commission carries out an inspection, the arrangements may include provision for payments.

Section 202 – Inspections – supplemental

585.Subsection (1) requires that the person carrying out the inspection produce a written report.

586.Subsection (2) requires the regulator to provide the registered provider with a copy of the written report and provides that the regulator may publish the inspection report and any related information.

587.Subsection (3) makes it clear that a person who carries out an inspection may publish the inspection report and any related information (whether or not the regulator has done so)

588.Subsection (4) provides that the Secretary of State may by order authorise the regulator to charge fees for inspections.

589.Subsection (5) provides that the registered provider must pay any fees charged.

590.Subsection (6) provides before making an order the Secretary of State shall consult the regulator, one or more bodies representative of registered providers, the Audit Commission and any other persons considered appropriate.

591.Subsection (7) requires the regulator to prescribe a scale of fees for inspections. Before doing so, it must have consulted the Secretary of State, one or more bodies representative of registered providers, and the Audit Commission.

Section 203 - Inspector’s powers

592.This section specifies the powers conferred on an inspector, as defined in subsection (12). In particular these include powers to require provision of documents or information, and enter premises and inspect, copy or take away documents.

593.Subsections (1)to (3) provide that an inspector may by notice require a person to provide specified documents or information. The inspector may require documents and information of a kind in respect of which the regulator can impose a requirement under section 107(1), which specifies that the regulator must have reason to believe that it may be in the person’s possession, and relates to the financial or other affairs of a registered provider or activities which are or may be carried out by a person who is or has applied to become a registered provider. A requirement under subsection (1) is subject to the provisions in section 107(3) to (7) and section 108 with any necessary modifications.

594.Subsections (4) to (6) provide that an inspector may at any reasonable time enter premises occupied by the registered provider being inspected, and inspect, copy or take away any documents found there. They also specify that ‘documents’ includes documents stored on computers or electronic storage devices on the premises or accessible by computers on the premises, and that the inspector may inspect any computer or electronic storage devise on which such documents have been created or stored.

595.Subsections (7) and (8) provide that the inspector may require any person on the premises to provide facilities or assistance as the inspector reasonably requests. This includes requiring assistance from any person in charge of a computer as the inspector reasonably requests for the purposes of subsections (5)and (6).

596.Subsections (9) to (11) specify that it is an offence for a person without reasonable excuse to obstruct an inspector carrying out an inspection. A person guilty of an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 (currently £1000) on the standard scale. Proceedings for an offence under this section may only be brought by or with the consent of either the regulator or the Director of Public Prosecutions.

597.Subsection (12) provides that an ‘inspector’ means a person who is authorised in writing by the Audit Commission to exercise powers under this section for the purposes of an inspection carried out under section 201 or a person who is authorised in writing by the regulator to exercise powers under this section for the purpose of carrying out any inspections under section 201.

Section 204 - Performance information

598.Subsection (1) gives the regulator a power to require a registered provider to prepare an annual report containing an assessment of its performance in relation to any standards the regulator has set under sections 193 and 194, and to send that report to the regulator within a specified period.

599.Subsection (2) provides that the regulator can specify in detail what the reports prepared by registered providers must cover.

600.Subsection (3) specifies that it is an offence not to comply with a requirement made by the regulator under this section without a reasonable excuse.

601.Subsection (4) provides that the penalty for any person found guilty of that offence on summary conviction will be a fine of up to level 5 (currently £5000) on the standard scale.

602.Subsection (5) provides that proceedings for an offence under this section may only be brought by or with the consent of either the regulator or the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Section 205 - Publication of performance information

603.This section requires the regulator to publish at least once a year information about the performance of registered providers. This must include information likely to be useful to tenants, potential tenants and local authorities.

Section 206 - Inquiry

604.This section gives the regulator the power to hold an inquiry where it believes that the affairs of a registered provider may have been mismanaged.

605.Subsections (2) to (5) specify who the regulator may appoint to manage the inquiry. The regulator must appoint one or more individuals, all of whom must be independent of the regulator. Individuals are independent of the regulator if they and members of their family are not currently members or employees of the regulator and have not been within the previous five years. Consultants, defined as individuals providing services to the regulator other than by employment or appointment under this section, are also not considered independent where they are currently providing services.

Section 207 - Inquiry: supplemental

606.Subsection (1) provides that individuals appointed by the regulator to conduct the inquiry will determine the procedure for the inquiry.

607.Subsection (2) provides that they may consider the affairs of a profit-making registered provider only so far as related to social housing.

608.Subsection (3) provides that they may consider the affairs of any body that, at the time with which the regulator is concerned, was a subsidiary or associate of a registered provider. The meanings of “subsidiary” and “associate” are defined in section 271.

609.Subsections (4) to (6) provide that the inquirers may make interim reports. They must make a final report on the matters to which they have been directed by the regulator. The regulator may arrange for the publication of all or part of either interim reports or the final report produced by the inquirers.

610.Subsection (7) also provides that local authorities may contribute to the costs of an inquiry held by the regulator under these sections.

Section 208 - Inquiry: evidence

611.Subsection (1) gives the inquirer the power, by giving a notice, to require persons to provide specified documents and information.

612.Subsection (2) explains that the notice may require evidence to be given on oath (and the inquirer may administer oaths for that purpose).

613.Subsection (3) limits the power in subsection (1) so that it can only be exercised over documents or information that the regulator would have a power over under section 107.

614.Subsection (4) specifies that the provisions of section 107 (3) to (7), and section 108 apply to this section modified as necessary to the specific purpose of the section.

Section 209 – Inquiry: charities

615.This section provides that an inquiry can only be held in relation to a registered charity if it has received ‘public assistance’, may only relate to its housing activities, and that the Charity Commission must be notified of the inquiry.

Section 210 – Extraordinary audit

616.This section broadly replicates the effect of paragraph 22 of Schedule 1 to the 1996 Act.

617.Subsection (1) specifies that where the regulator has decided to hold an inquiry under section 206, the regulator may require the registered provider to allow its accounts and balance sheet to be audited by a qualified auditor appointed by the regulator.

618.Subsection (2) defines “qualified auditor” for the purposes of this section.

Subsection (3) requires the auditor appointed under subsection (1) to report to the regulator on the matters and in the form determined by the regulator, once the audit has been completed

619.Subsection (4) limits the use of inquiries in respect of registered providers which are also registered charities. This is equivalent to paragraph 28 of Schedule 1 to the 1996 Act. This ensures the independence of charities while respecting the Charity Commission’s own role as regulator of charities in their non-housing activities.

620.Subsection (5) specifies that the cost of the audit, including the auditor’s remuneration, will be met by the registered provider.

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