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New watchdog for social housing

A new watchdog to oversee social housing standards has been announced by the government.The communities secretary Ruth Kelly presented the plans at a speech in Harrogate today with the aim of empowering tenants in situations with below standard landlords.About eight million people currently live in social housing, prompting the government to launch an independent review last year conducted by Professor Martin Cave from Warwick University.Measures springing from the professor's recommendations include a new overseer to inspect property providers and to have the power to cap rent increases due to poor performance.The new watchdog will also be able to set fines for landlords failing to carry out repairs in a reasonable amount of time and publish information scoring landlords on the standard of housing and tenant satisfaction.Announcing the proposals, Ms Kelly said: "The next challenge is to increase housing supply and give the responsible majority of tenants a far greater say on how their estates are run."This major review of regulation will ensure a better system to help protect the interests of the eight million people currently living in social housing."We need to move to a system that puts tenants in the driving seat and that minimises the burdens on good social landlords. The changes mean landlords are more accountable while ensuring tenants have a real say about how their homes are managed for the first time."Also announced on the same day were government proposals to increase housing supply as part of Communities England - a new housing and regeneration agency.

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