RSLs – Governance Matters

Over the last twelve months the Scottish Housing Regulator has issued a series of reports entitled Governance Matters, which look at how poor corporate governance can affect a Registered Social Landlord (RSL). Each report includes one or more real life (but anonymous) case studies that serve to illustrate what can happen when there are governance failures.

Why is the Regulator interested in RSL governance? Primarily because it is charged with “safeguarding and promoting the interests of current and future tenants, homeless people and other people who use services provided by social landlords” and a badly run organisation is likely to jeopardise the interests of tenants and others. Secondly, while the Regulator has a statutory duty to regulate both local councils and RSLs in relation to housing services and activities, it has an additional duty to set standards of financial management and governance and to assess performance against those standards. Each report has highlighted a particular Standard and so far reports have covered Standards 1, 3, 4 and 5. There are six Standards, summarised as:

  1. The governing body (i.e. the voluntary Board of Management of an RSL) leads and directs the RSL to achieve good outcomes for tenants and other service users (the need for strong leadership).
  2. Openness and accountability in actions, focussing on the sustainable achievement of the priorities of its tenants, service users and stakeholders.
  3. Managing resources to ensure the financial well-being of the RSL and its economic effectiveness.
  4. The need for the governing body to base its decisions on good quality information and advice and to identify and mitigate risks to the RSL ’s purpose.
  5. That the RSL should conduct its affairs with honesty and integrity.
  6. The governing body and senior officers have the skills and knowledge they need to be effective.

These Standards embody the principles of good governance, which will be evident in all well run organisations. It is hoped that the Regulator finds no further case study evidence of poor practice!

If you have any queries about Governance Matters, please contact Fiona Fleming or a member of our Social Housing Group at or call 0131 558 5800.