You’ve undoubtedly heard the adage about Tenant Participation by now – ‘it’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.’
As grassroots community development workers, we regularly highlight the benefits of involvement for the tenants. But as an organisation working for over 40 years with housing providers, we know it’s important to look at it from a business standpoint too.
Social housing providers are charities dedicated to making housing and thus people’s lives better, but they are also businesses that must watch the bottom line. And when it comes down to it, tenant participation is good business. To quote another aphorism, ‘it’s an investment, not a cost.’
Implementing a comprehensive tenant involvement programme improves businesses in tangible, quantifiable ways, for example:
Asking your tenants how you can improve services and using the feedback to shape and improve services can only be good business! Residents can provide insights and ideas about service improvements that are not always readily apparent to housing professionals. You don’t have the lived experience that your tenants do, so learning from them is critical.
Scrutinising policies and procedures ensures a more robust decision-making process and lessens their chances of failure.
Better services will create efficiencies by freeing staff time to tackle other issues.
A better understanding of your tenants’ circumstances will lead to a proactive approach to problem-solving, saving time and money down the road.
Both tenants and staff become more knowledgeable and aware of each other’s perspectives leading to greater trust and reduced conflict. Aim to do away with a “them and us” mindset and work as partners to reap the rewards.
Happier Tenants and Happier Staff
Authentically tenant-centred organisations create better relationships between tenants and staff. It has been proven (by robust research) to lead to greater tenant satisfaction, and the knock-on effect is more sustainable tenancies and stable communities. It also means properties don’t lie empty for long. Happy customers mean fewer voids!
Staff satisfaction and retention are improved through more meaningful engagement with tenants.
Recognition and Reputation
Tenant participation attracts outside investment and best practice recognition within the sector.
With it comes wider reputational benefits, including greater regulator confidence in the strength of an organisation’s governance arrangements.
Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements introduced by the Tenant Participation Strategy for NI (2015-2020).
And last but by no means least, your tenants are your best ambassadors. No amount of fancy marketing, glossy documents, statistics and strategies will ever disguise an organisation that doesn’t engage in a meaningful way. Embed the importance of your tenants into your organisation’s culture, and you will reap the rewards.