It’s been so encouraging to see Together with Tenants put into practice by housing associations of all shapes and sizes in recent months. Since we published the Together with Tenants plan and charter last July, our early adopter organisations have been testing it out, adapting it to their own local contexts, and working with staff and residents to understand what our ambition for a stronger relationship between residents and landlords means in practice.
It would be unfair to pick a favourite example from all the exciting work happening across the sector, but one that stuck with me is Silva Homes’ pet policy. They worked in partnership with their residents to reshape their pet policy, making it more flexible and inclusive. It might seem like a small issue, but keeping a pet can make a huge difference to residents’ quality of life, so being able to involve residents in those decisions is significant.
With the early adopter process drawing to a close this spring, we’re preparing to roll Together with Tenants out across the sector – and here’s how you can prepare.
Through Together with Tenants, we want to build on great work already happening across the sector to create positive relationships with residents. But we also want to challenge ourselves to go further, and address questions facing our sector from residents and from the government about whether we’re as transparent and accountable to residents as we could be.
So, we’re encouraging you to consider some of these important questions, within your organisations and with your residents. Are you as open and responsive as you can be when communicating with residents? Do you genuinely involve residents in decisions that affect their homes and communities? You can find more questions to consider in our ‘preparing for rollout’ leaflet.
We know these issues matter to you – we heard from more than 2,500 residents, housing associations and other stakeholders through our extensive consultation and scoping process. They were also raised in the government’s Social Housing Green Paper, and we expect many of the same issues to be covered in the promised White Paper, which we expect later this year.
It’s important that we show leadership now – with or without a White Paper – and Together with Tenants is an opportunity to do this. To quote Fiona MacGregor, Chief Executive of the Regulator of Social Housing, at last week’s Board Excellence in Housing Conference, “if you think there are things you could be doing for your customers and tenants, just crack on and do it”. She also warned that the sector should be ready for more consumer regulation.
One of the four points in the Together with Tenants plan is a new requirement in the NHF’s Code of Governance for boards to be accountable to residents. We’re currently reviewing the code with a view to publishing a new version in the summer.
In this first phase of the review, open until 13 March, we want to hear your views on the core principles framing the code. Our proposed principles include ‘accountability’, ‘transparency’ and ‘residents first’ – and you can share your thoughts on these via our online consultation. Getting this right will be essential to delivering Together with Tenants.
Once the early adopter process finishes in the spring, we’ll consider the learnings from the last few months and use these to refine the plan and charter. In the meantime, we’ve started sharing some of the early adopters’ experiences and ideas – I hope you will find these inspiring.