Together with Tenants is an important initiative launched to the housing sector in October 2020 aimed at strengthening the relationship between residents and landlords.
The initiative was created following the Grenfell Tower fire, where the government’s Social Housing Green Paper highlighted the need to rebalance the relationship between social landlords and their customers and give customers a stronger voice. At the centre of the Together with Tenants initiative is a six-point charter covering areas such as influence and accountability, communication and relationships.
In 2020, we signed up as an early adopter of Together with Tenants. We commit to adopt the charter and to publicly report our progress against the charter.
In January, our customer scrutiny group, InFocus, carried out a review and graded our performance over the last 12 months against the Together with Tenants charter.
Here’s the outcome of the review:
Housing associations will treat all residents with respect in all their interactions. Relationships between residents and housing associations will be based on openness, honesty and transparency.
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.
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.
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.
The review showed that in most of the categories we’re performing well, with some areas we can improve on, such as communication and complaints. This is reassuring as although the ongoing pandemic has changed the way in which we work, our results and performance are remaining strong, especially around compliance with health and safety.
The review concluded that we need to improve the way we deal with issues; this involves increasing the satisfaction with complaint handling and reducing the number of repeat complaints. We also need to promote the services we provide more widely so that all customers are aware of how to access additional support and funding.
The review also looked at how we communicate including the use of digital methods of communication such as our website, email and social media. The review concluded that we have communicated well during the pandemic and kept residents informed on changes to our services.
However, it highlighted that we need to improve the way we communicate updates on issues, keep to agreed timescales, be more proactive in giving advance notice of planned works and to let customers know when their key contacts change such as their housing officer.
We are committed to maintaining our good performance especially around safety and compliance and improving the areas highlighted in amber in the scrutiny review. We have made improvements in communication and complaint handling but recognise that we need to do more.
Coming soon is the launch of a new system which will improve communication and create efficiencies for our colleagues and customers. We are also planning changes to the website and reviewing how we share learning from feedback.
We will bring you regular updates on the website to let you know what changes have been made and what we’re planning next, so watch this space.
If you have any questions or would like to know more please get in touch with the Customer Engagement Team.