Tenant Engagement and Participation
To us, Tenant Participation means providing all tenants with a range of opportunities to have a say about how their housing services are delivered. It is a two way process where landlords value the engagement and recognise it as a vital component to improving their business.
To be meaningful and effective, Tenant Participation must be embedded in the very DNA of the organisation at every level. Tenant Participation is not solely a Housing Management role, every member of staff must be fully conversant with the concept.
Effective Tenant Participation comes from knowing your customer base, understanding what issues are important to your tenants and how you as a landlord should communicate with them. It is important to recognise the wide and varying needs of tenants and to consider adopting a range of engagement methods to ensure your tenants can easily and equitably be involved (if they wish to be.)
Levels of Tenant Participation
There are a number of levels of Tenant Participation ranging from operational to strategic. These are broadly represented as information, consultation, involvement and partnership. The engagement at each of these levels will be very much dependent on a tenant’s interests, capacity and availability. It is necessary to stress that all levels of engagement are equally important in the effective delivery of services.
Approaches to Tenant Participation
Finding the right approach is key! The thing to remember though, is that one shoe does not fit all. So how do you know what approaches to use? The answer is simple - Ask your Tenants!!
Traditional methods of conducting meetings are not always the most suitable for a variety of reasons. Some tenants may be quite happy to complete surveys, provide feedback on literature from the comfort of their own homes whilst others may want to scrutinise services or indeed sit on your Board. Whatever approaches are offered they must be supported with appropriate training for Staff, Board members and Tenants.
How We Can Help
Empowering Communities can assist Housing Associations in a number of ways to help them engage with their tenants and encourage their participation in the business to the benefit of everyone involved. For example we can help you to:
- Develop a meaningful Tenant Participation Strategy
- Develop an Implementation Plan
- Review and Monitor your Tenant Participation Strategy
- Review existing structures and practices
- Assess your Tenant Participation Strategy in line with the 10 Principles outlined in Tenant Participation Strategy NI 2015-2020
- Identify your areas of good practice and areas of weaknesses to enhance your Tenant Participation Strategy
- Advise on the best methods of engagement to suit your customers
- Undertake Tenant Engagement surveys (including collating and analysing data)
- Facilitate Focus Groups with tenants, staff and Board members
As the Independent Tenant Organisation for Northern Ireland, we have developed guidance in line with the requirements of the Department of Communities' Tenant Participation Strategy for NI 2015-2020. These guidelines are designed to support social housing providers in meeting these requirements.