The Regulator of Social Housing has concluded that Highstone Housing Association is non-compliant with both the Governance and Viability Standard and the Rent Standard.
Following a reactive investigation, the regulator found “clear conflicts of interest” between Highstone and third-party property companies.
Highstone has failed to ensure that these arrangements are in the best interest of the registered provider, the regulator concluded, and do not inappropriately advance the interests of the third parties.
The regulator also identified inadequate reporting on financial performance and accounting, as well as poor decision making due to a lack of appropriate skills and independence at board level.
The regulator says it also found no evidence that Highstone has appropriate finance plans and mitigations in place for its long lease-based model.
In addition, Highstone did not provide assurance that the rents it has charged to tenants comply with the Rent Standard.
Harold Brown, RSH’s senior assistant director for Investigations and Enforcement, said: “Our investigation into Highstone Housing Association has revealed clear conflicts of interest at board level, as well as a failure to plan appropriately for the risks that come with a long-term lease-based model.
“Highstone has also failed to assure us that its rents comply with our standards.
“We are engaging intensively with Highstone’s new board as it works to return to compliance with our standards.”
Highstone Housing response
In response to the regulator’s investigation, Highstone has recruited new independent board members and commissioned a review of its governance arrangements and its compliance with the Rent Standard.
Highstone Housing said: “Highstone Housing Association is committed to working with the Regulator of Social Housing to address the issues identified.
“Work has started to rigorously review areas of non-compliance. In response to the regulatory engagement, a review of board membership has taken place which included three new board appointments.
“Highstone is committed to the highest standards and places the interests of the vulnerable individuals it houses at the forefront at all times.”
The Sheffield-based provider specialises in supported living accommodation for vulnerable adults.
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