Posted by: Carl Brown14/09/2012
One of the difficulties of understanding rows between residents’ groups and landlords is working out whether the tenants’ group is really representative of the community’s views.
This week Inside Housing has reported on the latest in two long-running disputes between groups of tenants and social landlords. Tenants and residents associations in Hammersmith continue their fight against Hammersmith & Fulham’s plans to knock down their estates, and this week even made a complaint to the police about the authority. Elsewhere, One Housing Group has faced criticism over its plans to merge subsidiary Island Homes. Former board members of its subsidiary Island Homes are sore about being removed by OHG four years ago.
In both cases the landlords say the tenants’ involved do not represent the views of the majority of tenants. OHG removed the tenant-led Island Homes board, while Hammersmith & Fulham established a rival residents’ ‘steering group’ which it believes better reflects the views of the majority.
Establishing whether a tenant representative is really representative of views of the wider public is tricky. As a one-time local newspaper journalist I was quite often confronted by people who had formed campaign groups or residents’ associations and claimed to speak for the majority. In some cases, I later found that these people were merely shouting the loudest, and their views, although they were often the only views heard, were not representative of wider public feeling. People furiously opposed to something, for instance, tend to shout louder than those who are in favour, or indifferent.
On the other hand of course, stating that a tenants’ group is not representative is exactly what you would expect a landlord to say when it is finding the stance of a group difficult.
Under the new regulatory framework, the social housing regulator no longer deals with consumer complaints. Instead, complaints will be heard by tenant panels or local politicians.
It remains to be seen what will happen if landlords begin to question the legitimacy of tenant panels in the same way as some of them raise questions about the extent to which tenants’ groups are representative of their community.
From Housing matters
Carl Brown looks at regulation, training, board members, pay and a host of other issues that impact the day to day running of social landlords