Response to consultation on residents and landlords working together to keep buildings safe

As part of the implementation of the Hackitt Review, MHCLG are now working with residents, stakeholders and sector experts to deliver a change in culture that gives residents a stronger voice on building safety, and puts people and their safety first.

20 February 2019

In December, the Government put out a call for evidence on ‘Good practice on how residents and landlords/building managers work together to keep their home and building safe.’ This consultation is a crucial part of the Government’s plans to ensure that residents receive the information they need to remain safe in their homes.

The Federation has submitted a consultation response packed with case studies from our members, which highlights the following:

What did housing associations do in the immediate response following the Grenfell Tower fire?

  • In the days and weeks following the fire, housing associations were quick to reach out to residents to reassure them of the safety measures in place in their buildings, remind them of what to do in the event of a fire, and to clarify who they should contact with any concerns. These messages were delivered online, through door drops and in face-to-face meetings.
  • In blocks where ACM cladding was discovered, residents were kept updated on the interim measures that were put in place to keep them safe and progress towards remediating the high-risk materials. Importantly, residents were informed about how any of these works and interim measures might change how they need to react to a fire.

How are housing associations working together with residents to improve building safety?

  • Tailoring engagement to meet residents’ needs: using surveys and interviews with residents to understand more about what makes them feel safe in their homes, what kind of information they want to receive, and how they want to receive it. In some instances consultation processes were led by residents.
  • Safety led by residents: alongside consultations, many of our members have resident engagement panels and scrutiny boards who have been asked to consider safety issues on an ongoing basis. Some of these groups were set up after the Grenfell Tower fire and are focused on living in high-rise accommodation, while others are long-established forums that have taken a greater level of interest in health and safety issues since June 2017.
  • Inviting residents to sit on procurement panels for large service contracts, including those relating to construction, refurbishment, maintenance and health and safety. This allows residents to question service providers about their credentials and approaches to safety and engagement.

What are the barriers and enablers to keeping homes and buildings safe?

  • Access for vital safety works: problems in accessing both tenanted and leaseholder properties to carry out inspections on or repair key building safety features within a property can present a significant barrier to keeping a whole building safe. We are calling for appropriate rights of access enshrined in legislation.
  • Empowered and engaged residents: housing associations know that empowered and engaged residents play a crucial role in keeping themselves and their neighbours safe, particularly in high-rise and complex buildings. The Federation and our members want to see their fire safety messages backed up by a national, government-led campaign targeted at keeping people safe from fire in their homes.

Why we need a sector commitment to a new relationship with tenants

Housing associations have faced some questions about their relationship with tenants and residents. We have been leading a national conversation with our members, tenants and tenant organisations to look at the changes we can make to create stronger, more balanced relationships with the people we house.

Our aim is to ensure that housing associations are as accountable as possible to their tenants and residents. We are developing a sector-wide approach, Together With Tenants, which will:

  • introduce new expectations at board level
  • set out clear commitments for tenants and residents
  • give tenants and residents a louder voice, a stronger role in scrutiny, more influence locally and nationally, and provide a clear link to regulation.

You can read the full submission here. 

For further information, please contact: Lucy Grove, Grenfell Programme Lead on lucy.grove@housing.org.uk, 020 7067 1067