What being a Together with Tenants early adopter means for Riverside

I’m really pleased and proud that Riverside has signed up to be a Together with Tenants early adopter.  It was an easy decision for Riverside to be part of something that will hopefully make things better not only for Riverside tenants and residents, but for tenants and residents across the country.

Victor Andrews, Chair of the Riverside Customer Voice

Victor Andrews, Chair of the Riverside Customer Voice

3 July 2019

What is Together with Tenants?

The aim of Together with Tenants is simple: to strengthen the relationship between tenants, residents and housing associations by building trust, increasing accountability and ensuring tenants and residents know exactly what to expect from their landlords.

At the heart of the plan is a charter. Every housing association should be able to demonstrate and evidence their performance against the commitments in the charter. It’s about ensuring tenants not only have confidence in the quality and consistency of services they receive, but also know they are truly being listened to and are part of the decision-making process. I can’t see why any housing association wouldn’t sign up to this.

Tenant and resident involvement at Riverside

Riverside has always been keen to provide excellent services and, importantly, listen to its tenants and residents. This has been demonstrated through a commitment to structures that promote genuine involvement over the years. 

I feel very fortunate to be leading the new approach to involvement, which has seen the creation of the Riverside Customer Voice (RCV). This new model of involvement has been hailed as good practice, and we’ve already achieved so much. We’ve inputted into and shaped Riverside’s response to the Social Housing Green Paper, focused on service improvement, and been involved in policy reviews. We also relaunched our ‘Customer Voice’ bus, which enables us to get out to more communities and reach more tenants and residents.

It’s not just about the RCV. Riverside also has a number of tenants represented in its governance model. A tenant sits on the Group Board, and over a quarter of the Neighbourhood Services Committee are tenants. I actually sat on the Group Board last year as an observer, and gained so much from the experience.

What Together with Tenants will mean for Riverside

So what can Together with Tenants add to this? For me, it’s about providing assurances that we are doing enough. After Grenfell – a dreadful disaster that I feel will become part of Britain’s social history – we were all in shock. It was a watershed moment for tenants, residents and housing associations. We need to make sure this never happens again. The Together with Tenants Charter helps us all by clearly setting out what housing associations should be doing to be good landlords – and, importantly, by giving tenants oversight of this.

Where a housing association isn’t fully meeting one or more of the principles, it can easily identify where it needs to improve and take action. I don’t expect every housing association to be perfect, but I do expect every housing association to want to do better for its tenants and residents where it can.

As an early adopter, we’re not only looking at how we can evidence how we meet the commitments in the charter, but how can we embed them in our organisation so that we can be truly accountable to tenants and residents through our Board and Committee structures.

We had a really useful discussion last week with senior staff, Board and Committee Members and tenants from the RCV. We recognise we have work to do if we want to be ambitious and really give tenants the comfort that they are at the heart of our decision-making process.

Already, Together with Tenants is proving useful to the RCV and Riverside by providing this framework and prompting these discussions. It will mean making changes, but if it means a better service for tenants and residents, and greater accountability, then I think it’s worth it.

Find out more about next steps of the Together with Tenants plan.

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