Building strong tenant involvement for housing associations
As the National Housing Federation’s Together with Tenants initiative is rolled out nationally this month, many housing associations will be taking a comprehensive look at their governance frameworks to ensure that they are applying best practice and are fully compliant with the principles of the TwT charter.
Together with Tenants is designed to bring tenants into much close alignment with housing association Boards and give tenants more voice and influence on the decisions that affect their homes and neighbourhoods. Following the government’s Social Housing Green Paper, A New Deal for Social Housing, it’s expected that the government will follow this with a Social Housing White Paper in the near future.
One of the expectations of the Green Paper is a need for change in the relationship between residents and Housing Associations leadership and management. This would challenge old thinking that real contact and communication between tenants and boards was a step too far and that strategic decision making could not realistically form part of the tenant and landlord relationship.
Its is intended that the Together with Tenants initiative and charter will address many, if not all of the Green Paper challenges to the sector.
Together with Tenants initiative is made up of a four point plan including a new Charter to provide tenants with the assurance that their landlord complies;
- A new requirement in the National Housing Federation Code of Governance for boards to be accountable to residents will help ensure all organisations value the voice and experience of residents and use their insight to inform decision making.
- A new Together with Tenants charter – this will ensure all residents know what they can expect from their housing association landlord, regardless of where they live, the type of home they live in, or who their landlord is.
- Resident oversight and reporting of progress against the charter – this will give residents a stronger role in holding their landlord to account, and boards would be expected to take action where required.
- Giving residents a stronger collective voice with the regulator – issues that are uncovered by resident oversight and reporting could be referred to the regulator, so that action is taken where appropriate to protect residents’ rights and interests.
Additionally, in advance of inevitable regulatory expectations, individual Housing Associations will want to ensure that their governance and accountability structures are transparent and give tenants a strong role in shaping policy, influencing key decisions and the future of their communities.
The good practice and innovation which has emerged from the work of some of the early adopters of Together with Tenants has bred creative ideas and models that break down old barriers and structures and opened new channels of influence and communication which support better involvement and tenant involvement.
The Centre for Governance and Scrutiny (CfGS), has been working closely with the National Housing Federation throughout the development of Together with Tenants, including creating and supporting their Tenant Advisory Panel. In additional we work directly with Housing associations to externally and independently assess the governance and processes to support and provide authoritative confidence of the suitability and effectiveness of current or proposed changes.
Please contact Ian Parry, our Head of Consultancy (firstname.lastname@example.org )for more information on our support to social housing tenants.