Much of this improvement is because landlords know that tenant views are taken seriously in the regulation of social landlords, and will be increasingly important. However, the report aims to help landlords understand the wider value of involving tenants – from letting them choose their new kitchen, to involving them in governance.
Landlords must be clear about the costs and benefits of involving tenants, although spending money effectively is more important than how much money is spent.
Tenant involvement improves social housing and communities. It can help landlords focus management and money better. For example, NomadE5 developed a budgeting pack to help its new, young tenants, by working alongside existing young tenants to discover what measures would help them. This work has led to the formation of a Young Persons Group which is now involved with several issues such as customer service and asset management.
One of the keys to successful tenant involvement is to offer a ‘menu of involvement’, using different methods for different groups. For example, Southern Housing Group conducts conducts surveys by telephone and post each year across 14 services, contacting 10,000 tenants. It also has an annual residents’ conference that attracts 200-250 residents and two residents are on its Group Board. Involvement in each of these different activities attracts residents with differing time commitments, abilities and talents, enabling residents to choose to participate in environments they feel comfortable in.
The report illustrates that tenants welcome opportunities to be involved and they want their views heard, but the most important issue for tenants is that they want their landlord to get basic services such as repairs and maintenance right. The research also suggests that around one in 20 tenants has a willingness to become involved in more formal routes of empowerment.
Peter Marsh, Chief Executive of the Tenant Services Agency, said:
‘This report helps highlight three critical issues that will determine the success of our new approach to co-regulation. First, get the basics right; second, provide tenants with a menu of options to have their voice heard; and third, make the best use of the extra appetite for empowerment in a small but significant minority of tenants that is vital in making tenant-led regulation work.’
Steve Bundred, Chief Executive of the Audit Commission, said:
‘This paper will help landlords see the benefits of involving tenants. Not just because of tenants’ important role in scrutinising landlords, but also because tenants can help identify priorities. That’s even more important in these tough financial times. Tenants can help make sure money is spent on what’s really important and not used for marginal services.’
The paper also notes that more work needs to be done to improve the understanding between tenants and landlords about how the new co-regulation approach will work. The Tenant Services Authority and the Audit Commission will use the research behind the paper to focus their information to landlords and tenants.
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