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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Tenant participation – overcoming the challenges


Ahead of the upcoming CIH lunch and learn event focusing on tenant participation in the social housing sector, Martin Downey, community involvement officer with Helm Housing, takes a look at some of the challenges around tenant participation.

Social housing really is a sector like no other. That’s because we’re all striving to deliver the most professional, practical, and beneficial services for our customers – as well as potential new customers – whilst at the same time competing with ongoing changes imposed on us as providers by external bodies.

This requires those in the sector to view more and more issues with their corporate hats on because the choices we make are about keeping the level of service as high as possible, in order to ensure its sustainability into the future.

Tenant participation and feedback

The fact is the customer is always at the core of everything we do; every facet of social housing is driven by the will to provide for our customers. So surely it’s a given then that tenant participation should be a key element of any social housing strategy?

At the end of the day, no-one is better positioned to provide feedback on a service than the service user. With this in mind, shouldn’t it be relatively easy to sell the benefits of tenant participation?

If only that were the case. In reality, tenant participation is never an easy task. But then nothing that is truly worthwhile ever is. As a result, although tenant participation has some pitfalls and challenges, these are avoidable or can be overcome with adequate planning and preparation.

What are the challenges?

Some of the practical challenges of tenant participation that I’m referring to include the following:

  • Vision
    Starting out on a journey without any long term idea of what you want to achieve and how you may go about doing this.
  • Trust
    If you trust your tenants enough to truly empower them how can you expect them to engage with you on a meaningful and productive basis?
  • Attitude
    It is vital to approach any kind of engagement with an open mind and embrace the opportunities it may present to you and your organisation.

It is, of course, important to be realistic and stress that these are just some of the key challenges which tenant participation presents. However, resolving these and other challenges that will likely emerge during any participative process comes down to identifying and using the correct approach, and a willingness to work with your tenants.

At the end of the day, securing meaningful tenant engagement is always a difficult challenge, but it is important to take a strategic view of it in order to ensure it remains objective and meaningful.

Gain some valuable insights to help get your organisation’s tenant participation programme off the ground at the CIH lunch and learn event on Wednesday 15 February from 12-2pm.

Martin will outline the recent journey of Helm Housing’s tenant participation strategy, looking at some of the main challenges and barriers to tenant participation and ways to overcome them.

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