Support grows for push to give tenants a bigger say
Pressure is mounting on social landlords over tenant rights after a member of an influential committee of MPs stepped up her campaign to make housing associations more accountable.
Communities and Local Government select committee member Emily Thornberry has urged the academic who is leading the review into social housing regulation to give tenants the power to trigger inspections of their landlords.
The measure is set out in her private member's bill, Housing Association (Rights and Representations of Residents) Bill, which is due to receive its second reading in Parliament next month.
New research submitted to the Martin Cave review of social housing by Ms Thornberry has uncovered a gap between the views of those on the ground about problems on their estates and their landlords.
The study of 300 housing association tenants showed a ‘clear mismatch between who understands the problems of their estates or neighbourhoods and who they feel has a big say in how their estate or neighbourhood is run,' Ms Thornberry's Cave review submission states.
A CLG summary of tenants' responses which has also been submitted to the review showed that local authority tenants were also keen on having the power to prompt inspections. ‘There was a feeling that tenants should be able to influence the timings of inspection and there was an appetite for increased tenant involvement in inspection,' the summary states.
Tenants have also been making their views' known on the Communities and Local Government forum (see box).
Ms Thornberry's bill is being supported by CLG select committee chair Phyllis Starkey. She told Inside Housing, ‘I'm supporting the bill because improving the obligation of housing associations [to involve tenants in decision-making] is very important.'
John Cross, chief executive of BPHA and chair of the National Housing Federation, said that the Cave review could suggest tenants be given more of a role in inspections.
‘There may be examples of housing associations which are not taking account of residents' perceptions but generally the way associations operate, they have to take account if they are going to be successful,' Mr Cross said. ‘Until we see what Cave has to say, it feels a bit premature, but the feeling I am getting is that tenants should be part of the new regulatory system.'
Michael Gelling, chair of the Tenants' and Residents' Organisations of England, said that moves to further empower tenants were proper and sensible. ‘I talk to lots of tenants and their message is that landlords are becoming more remote,' he added.