Together with Tenants Charter – it’s about being proud of where we live

Helen Wild, 31 May 2023

Family is everything to me. I live with my husband, one of my three adult sons, and his daughter – so by extension, I really care about our community and the area we live in.

I have been a ForHousing tenant in Fitton Hill in Oldham for 40 years. The area means a lot to me and I'm passionate about making improvements so we can be proud of where we live.

The housing sector has been in the media spotlight a lot more lately and under pressure to ensure they deliver a good service to tenants. I hope this scrutiny helps inspire change.

The NHF is helping to drive change through Together with Tenants a sector-wide initiative focused on strengthening the relationship between residents and housing association landlords.

Together with Tenants embodies all the great work happening across the sector to create positive relationships with residents. But it also challenges housing associations to go further – presenting an opportunity for them to take the lead in accountability and resident oversight.

ForHousing has signed up to Together with Tenants and adopted the Charter which aims to strengthen the relationship between tenants and landlords. The charter has been developed by listening and working together with tenants to make a difference and create services that are person-centered, inclusive, and work.

The Together with Tenants Charter will help us make a difference in local communities and that was why, as a member of the Customer Committee I was keen to get involved in helping shape it.

Our approach

We wanted to have a variety of ways for everyone to get their views across in a way that suited them. We developed the Together with Tenants Charter over six months using a combination of meetings and drop-in sessions with tenants, creating a dedicated Facebook page, and gathering answers via feedback surveys – overall, close to 400 people shared their views.

This has been written up into the draft ‘Together with Tenants’ Charter tailored towards ForHousing tenants. This aims to make clear what is important to tenants and what they can expect from their social landlord, in order to improve accountability.

I'm keen to see tenants reassured that they are being listened to, and the process was great for that. Communicating with people in a variety of ways, helped us understand what tenants want, and it has given us clear areas to focus the Charter on. 

Our priorities

From a tenant's perspective, although we don’t own the property, it’s our home. As tenants, we ask for respect from ForHousing and want them to provide good-quality homes and services. That’s their commitment and the Charter is our way of holding them to it.

We’ve identified five key areas from our consultation with other tenants that the Charter will focus on:

  • Communication and visibility - We want to see better communication on the things that matter to us. For example, ForHousing has committed to being honest about what they can and can’t deliver.
  • Influence and accountability - This is about tenants and staff working together to improve services. We give our feedback and ForHousing is committed to acting on it. For example, I’m involved in the Scrutiny Panel and we had seen an increase in complaints. It was hard seeing tenants worry about repairs and problems. That’s why the Charter commits ForHousing to improving the complaints process and it’s great to see this work is already underway.
  • Environment and neighbourhood - By working together, we can improve the look and feel of our communities and ForHousing can help us link with partner organisations to tackle local issues, such as fly-tipping.
  • Repairs and asset management - The Charter commits ForHousing to clearer communications on this, for example around timescales of when new bathrooms and kitchens will be installed and increasing maintenance inspections.
  • Safety - Anti-social behaviour (ASB) kept coming up when we worked on the Charter. People want to feel safe where they live and ForHousing is committed to supporting this, for example by making the process for reporting ASB incidents really clear and simple.

Right direction

I know tenants are really excited to see the Charter get going and make improvements.

As an involved tenant, I already see things changing. We know Rome wasn't built in a day, but I can see it going in the right direction.

For example, ForHousing has set up a new Complaints Panel to identify issues and work with the Scrutiny Panel and Customer Committee to ensure we’re learning from complaints. This new way of working is already making a big difference. And the Keep ForHousing Clean and Green initiative is encouraging us all to keep our green spaces tidier and take care of our local area.

The Together with Tenants Charter will be a golden thread running through the whole organisation’s work. It will connect all the tenant groups and will help hold ForHousing accountable – the Charter will help make sure what our landlord says they’ll do gets done.

It gives us all the chance to work together, so we can be proud of where we live and improve our community for the next generation, like my granddaughter, to enjoy.

Read more about the Together with Tenants Charter on ForHousing’s website