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Social Housing Reform – A Seminar on Tenant Participation

In January 2013 the Minister for Social Development announced proposals to overhaul the delivery of social housing in Northern Ireland through the Social Housing Reform Programme (SHRP). The intention of the programme is to radically change the way social housing is delivered in Northern Ireland.

The vision is to create:
"Housing structures that support the provision of social and affordable homes, in thriving communities where people are proud to live”.

The first in a series of seminars looking at the different facets of the SHRP is being held on 20 August 2014 at 2pm in NICVA. The event is free and will focus on the tenant participation and empowerment aspects of the reform programme and will feature a presentation from Laura O’Dowd, Support Services Manager, Supporting Communities NI; a presentation from DSD; and the opportunity for a question and answer session. The series of events is being organised by NICVA and Housing Rights Service in association with the DSD.

Applications to attend should be sent to Jenna Maghie at NICVA.


The DSD Minister has said that his proposals on social housing reform “seek to establish a housing model that is tenant-focused, that is sustainable and that enables investment in our communities.”

We believe that listening to the voice of tenants will be a critical component of this reform programme as by involving tenants and listening to what they have to say, social landlords can make better business decisions, create excellent services, save money, find lasting solutions to problems and encourage customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Although the focus on tenant engagement and empowering tenants is strong in Britain, and in many other European countries, there has never been a tenant participation strategy in Northern Ireland.

In a bid to address this, the Department intends to take forward detailed consideration on tenant engagement specifically to:-

  • develop a Tenant Participation Strategy;
  • review the Regulatory Framework and Housing Association Guide so that Social Landlords develop tenant strategies which will be subject to regulation and inspection process
  • explore how, at a Regional level, tenant services and engagement can be supported.

The SHRP held a Stakeholder Event on 13 November 2013 when housing experts provided presentations on a number of social housing models from across the UK. In a briefing to the Assembly’s Social Development  Committee the Department notes that stakeholders have stressed the need for meaningful engagement between housing providers and their tenants/residents and have drawn a clear distinction between being consulted on a proposal and actual participation in developing a proposal. The particular needs of rural tenants and disabled tenants have also been highlighted. This feedback identified a range of areas where tenants felt they would benefit from involvement or participation; from working with landlords to develop policies and participating in the scrutiny of the services they receive, to actively voting on the transfer of their homes to new landlords.

Housing Rights Service and Supporting Communities NI also organised a well-attended conference on  12 December 2013 on Achieving Excellence through Tenant Involvement.

The SHRP has been split into four main projects:

Rent, Regulation and Inspection project: looking at options for rent policy and regulation of social housing in Northern Ireland.

Departmental Functions, Governance and Local Government Engagement project: focusing on departmental functions and how the structures will interact.

Regional Housing Body project: looking at the options for delivery of the regional (non-landlord) functions of the Housing Executive in the future.

Landlord Re-structuring project: looking at the options for delivery of landlord functions of the Housing Executive in the future.

There are also two enabling projects - Human Resources and Legislation - which will look at the staffing and legislative implications of the proposed changes.

Further information on the reform programme is available on the DSD site.

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Social Tenancies
This article was written on 6 August 2014. 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.