Back to school at Trafford Hall.
Towards the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) regulations on Social Housing which comes into effect from April 2010, Partners Residents Forum member Chris Graham & myself attended the Resident - Led Regulation course at Trafford Hall, Chester. The following week we also attended the 3 day Tenants Inspection course 10 - 12 March.
It was organised at very short notice but because of the importance for Islington tenants we were encouraged to take advantage of the available places.
Quoting from the TSA website:
In the biggest shake up of social housing regulation in decades, the six standards, drawn up with tenants and landlords up and down the country, will come into effect from 1 April and cover how landlords need to deal with issues such as tenant involvement and empowerment, repairs and maintenance, rents, quality of accommodation, complaints and anti-social behaviour. In its new framework, the TSA’s six national standards which landlords will need to meet are:
What does it mean in reality. Teams of residents working independently but alongside management to scrutinise and inspect literally anything they feel needs addressing in their community. For so long residents have been told what has to happen by officialdom that documents and information are confidential.
- Tenant involvement and empowerment, including customer service, choice and complaints, and understanding and responding to diverse needs
- Home, including repairs and maintenance and quality of accommodation
- Tenancy, including allocations, rent and tenure
- Neighbourhood and community, including neighbourhood management, local area co-operation and anti-social behaviour
- Value for money
- Governance and financial viability.
Some local authorities and housing management organisations preempting the regulations have gone a long way in setting the wheels in motion. We had several representations and some of the course participants themselves demonstrated what they were doing in their areas. Was impressed with one group who confirmed that they now have 70 Tenant inspectors looking at voids, contracts, standard of works, output specifications, value for money and management issues.
One point that was clearly evident across the country is that Residents felt more comfortable in talking to other residents without officialdom listening to what they say. I was able to confirm this to be fact from my own experience of inspections and residents complaints.
A representative from the audit commission who is also a Tenant inspector in his own area explained how to operate so that Management do not 'cherry pick' which residents they visit.
The good news is that Chris and I were told the Partners residents forum is a good sounding board to start. A flash thought at the time, it would be wonderful if we could get 70 inspectors. What did surprise me is that some of the past suggestions made by forum members which were answered with the response they can't be done for one reason or another, are in fact all part of the new regulations. The old cliche comes to mind 'Put that in your pipe and smoke it'.
What did we gain from the training? It was so intensive but what we learned was invaluable. It is presumed that these courses will have to held locally because besides all the issues surrounding personal safety, signing confidentiality documents and identity cards residents will need to know what is expected of them.
Some groups have started off with looking at voids. The condition when a property is vacated. What can be recycled for use by other residents, the repairs works in progress, standard of workmanship and the final condition before a property is relet.
This has always been one of my gripes. To show high turn around performance ratings there is a tendency in Islington to invite residents to view a property before work is completed. The attitude is that desperate people will accept anything so they have to take it or leave it. This to my way of thinking is just wrong.
Labels: Partners, Training, TSA