Council Housing: Tenant participation

There are many ways to get involved. Our Register of Tenants Organisations (Tenants' and Residents' Associations) gives you details of how to contact the tenants' association that represents your area.

Associations represent the views of the community and work with us and other organisations on a variety of issues. They put forward views and concerns about their housing, community and local issues to us, and take part in the decision-making process. They can help local communities by providing information, advice and access to other services and departments.

There are many reasons for tenants and residents to form an association. Here are some of the main ones:

  • to influence housing policy and practice, such as regeneration of neighbourhoods, repairs, housing services and problems with neighbours
  • to have a representative voice - to enable tenants to communicate with the Council to influence decision-making that affects them and their neighbours' homes
  • to access accurate advice and information relevant to tenants and residents
  • to work with the Council to develop better facilities - e.g. better play facilities for local children or better housing conditions
  • to provide a collective voice for tenants in an area, act as a focus for consultation or lobby for changes
  • to develop extra services through self-help schemes (e.g. lunch clubs)
  • to offer advice to local people and represent individual tenants when dealing with authorities

The benefits of effective Tenant Participation for everyone include:

  • improved service delivery
  • opportunities for tenants to develop new knowledge and skills
  • better communication between staff and tenants
  • better links between the community and the Council
  • staff and tenants being more aware of each other’s perspectives, and organisational and financial implications
  • breaking down the misunderstandings, helping to remove any mistrust between the Council and tenants, and building mutual respect and understanding
  • increased tenant satisfaction with homes and neighbourhoods

Most tenant organisations hold regular meetings. Meetings are open to all tenants within the area.

Tenant Scrutiny

New housing legislation means that tenants and residents can have a greater influence in making a difference to housing services.

  • Are you interested in finding out about what goes on behind the scenes and what requirements we need to meet when providing services?
  • Are you willing to be a ‘critical friend’?
  • Are you interested in making a difference to housing services?

If you have answered yes to the above questions then you could be just the person we need. We need committed tenants and residents who are willing to look at different aspects of the housing service and make recommendations on how we can improve.

Scrutineers

The Scrutineers will work independently and as part of a team, read reports and information; look at the ways we provide our services; and provide constructive feedback on ways in which we can provide improved housing services.

This is a voluntary role, with on-going support and training provided. The Scrutineers will not be paid but will be reimbursed for any expenses incurred.

What’s in it for you?

  • Opportunities to develop your knowledge and skills
  • Opportunities to make a difference to the housing services we provide
  • Opportunities to meet new people, form friendships and become part of a team.

If you are interested in becoming a Scrutineer or would like to find out more about previous and current tenant scrutiny activities, please contact the Tenant Participation Team at tenantparticipation@eastdunbarton.gov.uk or telephone 0300 123 4510.

Tenant Scrutiny so far

The Scrutineers first scrutiny task was looking at the Council’s re-let standards and made recommendations on how to improve these standards. The majority of the standards were approved by senior management and the Council and have now been implemented.

The Scrutineers recent task was looking at the Councils anti-social behaviour procedures and the recommendations they made have been approved and implemented.

New scrutineers have been appointed and will shortly decide on the next scrutiny task.

Making sure everyone can get involved

We recognise the importance of tenants helping us to improve our services. We rely heavily on the time and commitment of tenant volunteers and we want to make sure that getting involved is easy and cost free. We can help with:

  • arranging transport to and from meetings
  • arranging crèches for tenants attending any conferences or meetings
  • providing services for people with disabilities, such as a portable hearing loop system
  • providing written information in Braille, audio tape or other community languages
  • arranging interpreters for meetings

Grants (guidance and applications)

We fund tenant participation within the area and support local tenants' organisations. This may include help to cover costs such as hall lets, stationery, attendance at conferences, membership of independent advisory groups and other relevant expenses.

Before a group can apply for a Tenant Participation Grant, it must have a constitution, a bank account and sound financial guidelines in place.

Guidance notes have been produced to assist groups when applying for funding.

To apply for a Tenant Participation Grant, please download and complete an application form. We can help groups fill in applications.

How can I set up a tenant's organisation?

The Tenant Participation Team can give you help, support, advice and information to set up a tenants' association. They can also assist you with funding for your group.

Register of Tenant Organisations

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 introduced the Register of Tenants' Organisations. This is important as it gives local tenant groups a role in the tenant participation process.

We now have a duty to consult all Registered Tenant Organisations on issues that affect them and we must take notice, within a reasonable timescale, of any representations made by these organisations.

The register has information on:

  • what area the group covers
  • how to contact the group
  • when and where meetings are held
  • whether the groups meetings are accessible to people with special needs

The Register of Tenant Organisations is a public document and is available for inspection at all housing offices within East Dunbartonshire.

Registration Application Form

Organisations wishing to become a Registered Tenant Organisation should read through the attached procedure notes before filling in the registration form. For help completing the form, please contact us.

How can I have my say? (Interested Tenants List)

You can still participate without being a member of a tenants' organisation. We are keen to hear from people who want to represent their areas on forums or have information sent to them for comment.

We also hold a list of Interested Tenants, who have agreed to be consulted occasionally. They have highlighted the ways they would like to be consulted (e.g. telephone, post, e-mail, attending meetings, etc).

Resourcing Tenant Participation

This is about more than money. As well as funding tenant participation, we can:

  • support existing groups as activities broaden and develop
  • help groups access grants
  • help groups with administration (e.g. photocopying, typing minutes)
  • provide relevant and accurate information to groups
  • attend groups' meetings when invited
  • provide groups with access to conferences

Tenant Event

We hold an annual Tenant Event, where tenants can become involved in housing and community issues. They can meet staff and other tenants.

Workshops at previous Tenant Events have included:

  • anti-social behaviour
  • housing improvements
  • Scottish Housing Standard
  • allocations
  • homelessness
  • benefits of Tenant Participation
  • annual return for charter
  • improving services using mobile technology
  • welfare reform/universal credit four
  • Scottish Fire & Rescue Service
  • New Housing Developments
  • Property Maintenance Services

Tenant Participation Newsletter

The Tenant Participation Newsletter, 'Taking Part', is sent to all our tenants three times a year.

It is produced with the tenants on the Tenant Participation Working Group. 

The newsletter gives up-to-date information and news relevant to our tenants. It is also produced in CD form for tenants with sensory impairments or other difficulties with reading. Please contact us if you want a copy of the newsletter on CD. We can also produce copies of the newsletter in community languages.

Tenant Participation Working Group

The Tenant Participation Working Group is made up of tenants, Councillors and members of housing staff. It was originally set up to produce the Tenant Participation Strategy, and it is now reviewing and monitoring the strategy and tenant participation movement. It meets on average six times a year.

Training

We are committed to providing free training for tenants and tenants' associations on a wide range of issues. It is delivered by the Tenant Participation Team or by independent consultants. Topics might include:

  • committee skills training
  • disability awareness
  • equalities issues
  • Scottish Secure Tenancies
  • allocations

Training can be arranged for individual groups or it can be arranged for all groups to attend the one session. Groups are encouraged to highlight any training needs they may require to us.

Tenant Participation Strategy

All Councils throughout Scotland are required to have in place a Tenant Participation Strategy which ultimately will enable 'continuous improvement in landlords performance in supporting and enabling tenants to participate'.