Over the past couple of years we’ve done quite a lot of projects where we consult with social housing tenants. No matter what the subject, there are some things that come up over and over again. Here are the four main ones.
They want to be treated with respect. Often tenants feel that the staff of their housing manager just don’t take them seriously. They feel that they’re talked down to, their issues not taken seriously. Often people don’t return their calls, or don’t follow through on things they promise to do. When they find a staff member who does these things right – listens, takes them seriously and follows through – it makes their lives so much easier.
They want things fixed. Maintenance is always a hot topic with social housing tenants. When they report that things are broken, they want it to be fixed in good time, and fixed properly.
They want their neighbourhoods to be safe places. As the level of disadvantage experienced by social housing applicants increases, so does the amount of neighbourhood disturbance. Many tenants, particularly older people, report not feeling safe in their homes. They want decent responses to these issues – support for tenants whose mental health or other issues affects those around them, appropriate police response to incidents of violence, prompt action on the tenancies of serious or repeat offenders.
They want housing providers to work with them. Many tenants have a wealth of expereince in social housing and in building community. They have a lot to offer and they would like their housing managers to work with them and involve them in decisions about their housing and their neighbourhoods. They don’t want to be just a number.
Good tenancy management is not rocket science. Wouldn’t anybody want these things in their housing?