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028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Participation should include more than tenants

Tenants should have a stronger role to play in how their landlord provides and develops their housing services, however, Housing Rights believes that participation should be available to more people; not just tenants. To ensure tenant participation is successful in Northern Ireland, there are a number of key points we believe that Government needs to consider. We have submitted these to the Government in our recent consultation response to the Department for Social Development's  (DSD) tenant participation strategy for Northern Ireland.

Measuring the progress of participation

The Government should use a regulatory process to monitor the progress made in engaging with tenants and other users. If suitable progress is not demonstrated, the Department should give full consideration to developing a legal right to participation at some future stage.

Include more than just the tenants

Participation in the development and delivery of social landlord services should be about more than tenants. The Department needs to recognise that the services of social landlords are used by many other people, including the homeless and people on the waiting list for housing. All service users should have a say in the workings of landlords.

Include ‘easy to ignore’ groups

Successful engagement with ‘easy to ignore’ groups is key to effective participation. The DSD have highlighted 10 principles for tenant participation in their consultation document, and these will provide a good context for measures that all parties involved must follow. However, we believe an explicit reference to ‘easy to ignore’ groups in these principles will help ensure they are not easily overlooked.

Support and training for those involved

Landlords and service users will need support and training in order to engage effectively.  This will require additional investment of resources.

Consider the role and remit of the Tenant’s Advocate

We support the idea of a Tenants’ Advocate but believe more consideration needs to be given to their role and remit. Their paramount concern must be the needs and interests of the tenant.

Next steps – tenant empowerment?

Tenant empowerment seems to be the next logical step. An appropriate level of skills, support and knowledge will be required to equip tenants to appreciate the significant responsibilities, which come with exercising these rights.

Read our full response. 

Tagged In

Regulation, Social Tenancies, Policy
This article was written on 15 April 2015. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.