Thursday, 25 May 2017

There’s no one better to drive up social housing standards

Now that the dust has settled on the Tenant Services Authority review, it is becoming clear that co-regulation between landlords and tenants is here to stay and, if anything, is enhanced by the TSA review.

To date, there have been a wide range of landlords, both in terms of their willingness and capacity, to embrace co-regulation. A critical part of co-regulation has been about honest and robust mechanisms for self-assessment. Yet I’m far from sure that these mechanisms are widely in place.

One of my enduring concerns is the splitting of social landlords into two tribes - the first ‘gets’ co-regulation, are well run, have set up meaningful tenant scrutiny and engage fully on local offers. The second group carries on as before with token structures and marginalised tenants. Of course, it’s not always easy to recognise from within an organisation when its arrangements for co-regulation are trivial.

Over recent years we have seen the creation of a cohort of trained and articulate tenants. I continue to meet them throughout the country and marvel at their achievements. They have taken on positions of responsibility as board members, on scrutiny panels and provide a valuable contribution to their communities. These tenants know the difference between marginal and meaningful approaches. Perhaps the time is now right to look to them to provide a robust assessment of landlords’ approaches to co-regulation. It will require training and support, but who better to provide reassurance on co-regulatory approaches than tenants themselves?

Drawing upon their excellent experiences tenant co-regulation scrutineers can make manifest the ambition for ‘local solutions to local problems’ and help drive up standards for all social housing.

Phil Morgan is former executive director of tenant services at the TSA