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The National Housing Federation has today released the Together with Tenants charter, which aims to "embed a culture across our sector that values the voice and experience of residents, and strengthens the relationship between residents and housing association landlords."
The Fed are now calling on the sector to "support our plan and consider adopting the Together with Tenants charter".
The charter is as follows:
- Relationships: Housing associations will treat all residents with respect in all of their interactions. Relationships between residents and housing associations will be based on openness, honesty and transparency.
- Communication: Residents will receive clear, accessible and timely information from their housing association on the issues that matter to them, including important information about their homes and local community, how the organisation is working to address problems, how the organisation is run, and information about performance on key issues.
- Voice and influence: Housing associations will seek and value the views of residents, and will use this information to inform decisions. Every individual resident will feel listened to by their housing association on the issues that matter to them and can speak without fear.
- Accountability: Collectively, residents will work in partnership with their housing association to independently scrutinise and hold their housing association to account for the decisions that affect the quality of their homes and services.
- Quality: Residents can expect their homes to be good quality, well maintained, safe and well managed.
- When things go wrong: Residents will have simple and accessible routes for raising issues, making complaints and seeking redress. Residents will receive timely advice and support when things go wrong.
NHF say the charter will show the sector has demonstrated "leadership" ahead of the Social Housing White Paper, due to be released soon.
1) A new requirement in the National Housing Federation Code of Governance for boards to be accountable to their residents
We are producing a new Code of Governance, which will be published later this year, in collaboration with partners and stakeholders, including residents. The new 2020 code builds on earlier versions to include provisions that the views and needs of residents and other customers must be at the heart of strategic decision-making.
2) A new Together with Tenants charter
The charter is designed to ensure all residents know what they can expect from their housing association landlord, regardless of where they live, what type of home they live in, or who their landlord is. You can read the charter below.
3) Resident oversight and reporting of progress against the charter
Resident oversight and public reporting against the commitments set out in the charter will give residents a stronger role in holding their landlord to account. This aims to prevent Together with Tenants from becoming a tick-box exercise that does not drive change. Boards will be expected to respond and take action where required.
4) Giving residents a stronger collective voice with the regulator
Resident oversight and reporting against the charter may uncover issues of interest to the regulator, including potential non-compliance with consumer standards. Linking the Together with Tenants approach to regulation in this way will ensure that action is taken where necessary to protect the rights and interests of residents.
In a blog on the new charter and plan, Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of National Housing Federation, said: "We know in a sector as diverse as ours, one-size definitely does not fit all. However, the experience of the early adopters shows that adopting the Together with Tenants charter provides an opportunity for organisations of all sizes and types to refocus their culture, and review their policies and structures to ensure they are driving increased accountability to residents.
"I have spoken to so many housing associations who have been doing such brilliant work supporting and engaging with residents through the coronavirus crisis. And before the crisis hit, I saw many housing associations taking a unique and resident-led approach to engagement.
"Together with Tenants will build on this great work – it is not about imposing a particular way of doing things, but showcasing that we’re a sector that values the voice and experience of residents."
Also updating the sector on the new Code of Governance, Henderson added: "The new code is due to be published soon, and we believe it will ensure boards are clear that a well-governed organisation must embed the principles of accountability and transparency. Taken together, the code and the charter demonstrate our sector’s commitment to building stronger more trusted relationships with residents.
"There seems no doubt the Social Housing White Paper, when it is finally published later this year, will include measures aimed at improving the experience of social housing residents. While we want to make sure Together with Tenants complements other changes, it is right that we have not waited to be told what to do by the government or the regulator.
"As landlords to over six million residents, our sector has responded to the important questions residents have asked, including those explored in the aftermath of the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower. But we can go further, and take the lead in accountability and resident oversight.
"Adopting the Together with Tenants charter is an important next step in this journey, and I hope your organisation will join hundreds of other housing associations and residents in doing so."