The countdown has begun. As of 1 April 2015 Registered Providers (RPs) in England are required to comply with the new regulatory framework, including having a ‘live’ asset and liability register. The Regulator has indicated that full compliance will be expected as soon as possible. What that means for each RP will be different depending on the size and nature of the business but the Regulator has been clear that work on the register should be progressing well. Regulatory downgrades are likely if insufficient progress is made.

It is for each landlord to develop a register that works for their individual business. However, the Regulatory Framework states that it needs to be a ‘thorough, accurate and up-to-date record of the assets and liabilities’ of the RP.

We expect that many RPs will have begun this process several months ago. Some may have begun more recently but will at least have the outlines of a register now.  We are aware that many are still unsure what their register will look like in detail, what information it will contain and exactly how they will resource its development and ongoing maintenance.

If they haven’t already, RPs should quickly get to grips with the requirements. Asking the following questions may help your organisation assess its current progress and the work left to do:

  • Do you fully understand the regulator’s requirements?

  • Is every asset recorded on your stock list (including those acquired by merger or stock transfer, and noting property which you only manage)?

  • Do you have a system, or a plan to design a system, that can capture the following data:

    • let properties and void properties

    • tenure details

    • rent and service charges payable, and arrears

    • asset value, accommodating differing valuations where restrictions and exclusions may affect the asset when sold by a mortgagee or otherwise

    • other restrictions on use (via planning, nominations agreements or title conditions)

    • anticipated short or medium term responsive repairs and scheduled maintenance spend

    • liabilities under bonds, loans and other financial arrangements (and ideally financial covenants and consent requirements)

    • potential grant repayments

    • which assets are charged and  who they are charged to

    • other liabilities under rent charges, leases (e.g potential dilapidation claims), build agreements (e.g obligations to build in the event of contractor failure), financial contributions in section 106 agreements or overage payments.

  • Can or will your system analyse and report the data in a clear way?

  • Have you analysed your internal processes to ensure the register will reflect ‘live’ data?

  • How will you protect the security, consistency and validity of the data?

  • Have you ensured your register will cover the assets and liabilities of related entities such as subsidiaries and joint ventures, and any cross company or parent guarantees?

  • Will your register allow for prompt access to relevant documentation (for example, title records and planning documents)?

  • Have you made budgetary provision to implement and maintain the register?

Clearly, RPs face a huge challenge in terms of developing the system, locating and reviewing relevant documentation and implementing appropriate processes to maintain the register. Resourcing both the system cost and the man hours required to populate it will be of significant concern to many. Your various advisors will need to be on board to assist you to identify what can often be hidden liabilities. Procrastination will put you at risk of a regulatory downgrade.