Housing associations know how important the views and input of their tenants and residents is to what they do and already work hard to create positive relationships.
However, associations also recognise that, to inspire real trust, there is more they can do to be accountable to their tenants and residents.
The Together with Tenants project, which is driven by a desire within our sector and from the people we house to rebalance their relationship together, aims to do just that.
Landlords and tenants alike see the value of this work, which was the result of a two-year conversation with tenants and residents and a formal consultation earlier this year.
We received a positive response from more than 2,500 people, most of them tenants and residents, but we also received some challenging questions about whether the plan should go further.
We used this feedback to inform our final Together with Tenants plan, launched in July.
The four-point plan includes a charter outlining a set of cogent commitments that cover relationships, communications, voice and influence, quality, and what happens when things go wrong.
It proposes tenants and residents as the ones to oversee and report how their association is performing against these commitments, that housing association boards must be accountable to their tenants and residents, and that if a housing association is failing their tenants and residents, the regulator should step in.
This work explores many of the same issues as the Social Housing Green Paper, but we don’t need to wait for the next steps of the Paper to take action.
In fact, in the continuing absence of government-led change, it is even more important that we get on with making the positive changes to the way we work – changes that will make a real difference to tenants.
To make sure this plan works the best it can, we are doing a test run.
We asked our members to volunteer as early adopters of the plan, and we got a huge response. The plan is now being tested with 133 ‘early adopters’.
These housing associations should be able to provide invaluable feedback on what is working and what needs to be honed or improved, so that we can make any necessary final changes.
In the meantime, we are encouraging other members to use the published charter informally in their own organisations.
We hope to rollout Together with Tenants sector-wide in spring 2020.