Housing Associations and local authorities are seeking out tenants for their opinions on how they work. Scrutiny panels are groups led by tenants that point out areas to investigate that matter to them, such as repairs, anti-social behaviour or debt advice. The outcomes from the findings are reported to the leadership and board members of your landlord and could make a difference to their decision-making.
What is a tenant scrutiny panel?
The role of a tenant scrutiny panel is for residents to hold their housing provider to account and work with them to improve their services. As the residents of an area or block, you are the most able to understand what is working and what isn’t. Joining a scrutiny panel is a way for tenants who want to improve their housing environment, or work on behalf of their community.
What would it mean for you?
Becoming part of a scrutiny panel is a long-term commitment. These are voluntary roles and you will not be paid – but many housing associations offer expenses if you decide to get involved, like travel and childcare. In return for your time you will be able to learn more about the functions of your landlord, gain skills and training and offer suggestions on how things can improve.
What do tenant scrutiny panels do?
Scrutiny panels are independent and tenant-led; they choose the subjects to investigate. However, housing associations will work closely with the panels and may ask for your help in specific areas, such as customer experience.
When the subjects to be looked at – such as repair timetables – have been chosen, a detailed and thorough inquiry is made into them. The results are then reported back to the housing provider and the residents. Once they have sent back their findings, a tenant scrutiny panel will then watch closely how their landlord has tried to improve their services in response. Scrutiny panels act as a constant way to improve by checking and challenging how the housing provider works at all levels.
The work of a tenant scrutiny panel is varied; they undertake reviews of a housing provider, gather the opinions of other residents by carrying out surveys, interviews and focus groups and make sure that their landlords are doing the best they can by shadowing housing officers and maintenance teams, comparing them to other organisations and mystery shopping.
What tenants say
“I found the management side really interesting, [Running a housing association] is not just about collecting the rent – it’s about repairing the homes and supporting people if they are out of work and so on. There is so much going on that we, as tenants, aren’t aware of, such as tackling anti-social behaviour or helping people who are being housed here who are refugees. It’s not just a home, it’s a 360° thing. It’s nice to feel that as a resident we can look at some of the decisions that have been made at quite a senior level and how they impact on the frontline.”
Simon Barlow, Phoenix Housing Scrutiny Panel
The input of residents can really improve the services of a housing provider and as a tenant, you can better understand what is going on in your neighbourhood. What’s more, in urban areas the population is often changing – social housing tenants are the most secure and stable of communities and help maintain a neighbourhood’s identity. Making a commitment to a tenant scrutiny panel could positively impact the lives of those around you and empower other residents to get involved.
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