Tenant Scrutiny (Agenda Edition 9)
Subjects for Tenant Groups to discuss with their landlord.
Some tenant groups have asked us for topical agenda items/subject briefings for their tenant group to discuss with their landlord. TPAS Cymru have created a briefing series that we call ‘The Agenda’ which provides tenant groups with an overview of a subject and suggestions of questions you might want to ask in your engagement with your landlord. This briefing will focus on the following:
Tenant scrutiny provides tenants with the opportunity to hold their landlords to account. It gives tenants the power to review how well services are being delivered, as well as providing tenants with the opportunity to meet regularly, provide feedback to landlords, gather evidence, and help make recommendations about areas that matter to them.
Tenant scrutiny is facilitated through Tenant Scrutiny panels. These panels allow tenants to socialise and interact with like-minded people, and discuss a range of important issues such as repairs, anti-social behaviour, and debt advice for example. Tenants who join scrutiny panels can gain in-depth specialist knowledge, as well as being able to see the bigger picture and represent the wider tenant population and raise their concerns.
Recent reviews carried out nationally have provided significant evidence that tenant-led scrutiny can enable tenants to have a demonstrable impact on housing services. Therefore, housing associations and local authorities are keen to provide opportunities for tenants of all ages and backgrounds to take part in tenant scrutiny. TPAS Cymru host an interactive Scrutiny Forum which is open to all staff and tenants who have an interest in scrutiny. Whether you sit on a scrutiny panel, or you’re just curious about how you can make a difference and improve services, policies, or the way decisions are made, this forum is for you.
What does good Tenant Scrutiny look like?
When carrying out tenant scrutiny, best practice must be followed to ensure tenant's views are listened to and real change occurs. It is important to consider what ‘good’ looks like within tenant scrutiny.
Good tenant scrutiny is independent – Scrutiny panels should be genuinely led by tenants; they are in control of what areas are scrutinised and prioritised.
Good tenant scrutiny seeks realistic outcomes – Tenant scrutiny panels work together to consider the needs of all parties and work to achieve realistic outcomes.
Good tenant scrutiny is accessible and provides equal opportunities – Everyone has a right to have their voice heard. Factors such as age, ethnicity, disability, or language should not be a barrier to participation.
Good tenant scrutiny provides tenants with support and resources – Tenants have what they need to carry out effective scrutiny. Whether it be expenses, technology, or training - it is important tenants are not out of pocket.
Good tenant scrutiny has effective communication channels – Engagement structures are in place to ensure scrutiny panels hear from a wide range of tenants, as well as giving tenants regular updates about developments and progress.
Benefits of Tenant Scrutiny
Effective tenant scrutiny can make a big difference and provide benefits for both tenants and landlords. As previously mentioned, research has indicated tenant scrutiny is a great way for tenants to push for noticeable improvements. However, there are many additional benefits associated with tenant scrutiny, some of which are listed below:
1. Improved services for tenants. The obvious benefit associated with tenant scrutiny is that tenants can raise their concerns about services, help to provide evidence for these concerns, and then work together to make meaningful improvements to the services provided to them.
2. Better value for money. Tenant scrutiny promotes value for money because tenants, as rent payers, want housing department budgets to be spent as well as they can be.
3. Strengthen the relationship between landlords and tenants. Scrutiny plays an important role in showing that tenants are involved in the housing service, which in turn improves the reputation of landlords in the eyes of tenants. Tenant scrutiny can also help staff feel that they are being listened to.
4. Enhanced information and communication. Tenant scrutiny helps to get information out to tenants more effectively. As well as passing on information in a way that tenants trust, tenant scrutiny can help improve landlord communications.
5. An opportunity for tenants to develop. As well as benefits for tenants and landlords, tenant scrutiny creates benefits for the people that join the panels. Through their involvement in scrutiny and through the training that comes alongside it, tenants gain experience, skills, knowledge, and confidence.
Questions for tenants to ask:
Do we have a tenant scrutiny panel?
How would I get involved with tenant scrutiny?
What do I get from being involved?
What is the tenant scrutiny process?
How often do the meetings take place and are they in person or digital?
What methods do you use to carry out tenant scrutiny?
How can you assure me that tenant's voices are being heard and landlords are being held to account?
Do you have any examples of something you would want tenants to scrutinise?
We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the Agenda. Tenant scrutiny is an important part of tenant engagement, and we hope our 9th Agenda issue encourages you to get involved. We would love to hear about any conversations you’ve had with your landlord regarding this topic, so please email [email protected] with any feedback or further questions.