The Audit Commission is going to introduce short notice inspections of around five days' notice for housing associations following a successful pilot programme. The shorter inspections are to take less time to complete than the conventional inspections, as they are to specifically target weaker services. This new approach is intended to reduce the regulatory burden, while at the same time driving through improvements in services to tenants and leaseholders.

Short notice inspections are going to focus on the quality of services provided to tenants and leaseholders. In future the housing inspectors can examine just one or two services, for example, emergency repairs to tenants' homes or the responses to complaints about anti-social behaviour. Each pilot inspection was completed in around six weeks from beginning to end compared to approximately six months for a traditional inspection, which looks at all of the housing management services.

The first short notice inspections could take place as early as this autumn following the pilot programme that involved 12 volunteer housing associations. The Audit Commission intends to extend this approach and should be consulting shortly with local authorities and arms' length management organisations.