I recently had the pleasure of presenting an award at the TPAS* Southern Awards lunch to celebrate the work of individual tenants and tenant groups in terms of the contribution they make to managing the estates on which they live.
What stood out to me above all else was their collective passion for the work that they do – voluntarily – to make theirs and most importantly their fellow tenant’s lives better.
As a specialist maintenance contractor which has worked in the social sector for nearly 30 years of course we have engaged with tenants and tenant groups to a certain extent, but mostly our dealings are with the clients who contract with us.
We understand the important role which tenants play, and as a business we always take their feedback from the work we carry out in their homes, and where the opportunity presents itself we work with locally based groups to discuss the works we have been asked to carry out. The latter is perhaps the commonly understood level of their involvement.
What attending the recent function helped me to understand however was that their involvement goes much much further than this.
In fact, the involvement of tenants and tenant groups in the management of their estates is critical, more important than it has ever been.
We are all aware of the many challenges facing the sector currently – challenges which are going to test all those involved to the full – and which if not handled and communicated properly will have the potential to leave people feeling uncertain and vulnerable in the very place they should feel secure, namely their homes.
This is where active tenants and active tenant groups have an important role to play; they are the conduit between their housing providers and their fellow residents, and their work will be essential to keep all those involved up to date with news, information and feelings about the changes which are threatening to undermine the stability of the sector.
As a specialist maintenance contractor for windows and doors we are equally uncertain about what the changes in rent contributions will do to budgets in our field of operation; like everybody else we have seen the headlines and await further news.
But we know this – as a company known for its innovative approach to repairs and maintenance we will find cost effective solutions which continue to deliver the tenants of the landlords we work for an outstanding service which maintains our element of their homes to the highest standards for safety, security, and comfort.
Whether this is driven through introducing smarter ways of working such as our recently introduced ‘First Time Fix’ measure; better procurement practices through a greater understanding of the specifications we are asked to work on in consultation with our clients; or introducing whole new services for tenants which enables them to book their repairs directly with us and which will deliver not only service but financial benefits, we will continue to work to play our part in the upkeep of the estates on which we work.
I was inspired by the work which the tenants and tenant groups who I saw at the TPAS function do every day of the week, often un-recognised or often un-rewarded; but it is clear to me that it is their work which is the ‘glue’ in the relationships which are so important between landlord and tenants, and their work will be even more important in the coming months and years.
*Tenants Participation Advisory Service
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