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Understanding social housing landlords’ approaches to tenant participation

Tenant participation, which in broad terms may be understood as how tenants “can influence a social landlord’s activity” (Pawson et al., 2012 p.3), has been a long-standing feature of the UK housing system. In the late 1990s/ early 2000s, it was an important policy priority for Government, but in recent years it has slipped down the policy agenda. The Grenfell fire tragedy, which highlighted in the eyes of many commentators the lack of power and influence tenants have, has changed this, with tenant participation now firmly back as a feature of the policy landscape.

This report presents the key findings of an exploratory, scoping study on the subject, which focused on exploring and understanding landlords’ approaches to tenant participation. The research presented here builds on a review of existing research on social housing landlords’ approaches to tenant participation published earlier this year (Preece, 2019), which noted that there has been relatively little recent research on the subject. This research is based on 21 in-depth interviews with representatives of social housing landlords and ‘stakeholder’ organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and a focus group comprising ‘stakeholders’ and social housing landlord officers. While, reflecting the aims of the research, most participants were officers of social housing landlords and ‘stakeholder’ organisations, the study captured the views of eight tenants.

The report examines a range of issues including:

  • The language used to describe the process that has been historically referred to as ‘tenant participation’
  • The relative importance of tenant participation as an organisational priority.
  • Its purpose from the perspective of landlord and stakeholders, and linked to this, the benefits that accrue from it
  • How landlords’ approaches to tenant participation can be conceptualised
  • The factors that have driven changing approaches to tenant participation
  • The key challenges identified by landlords in relation to tenant engagement

The report also highlights key learning to emerge from the research for social housing landlords and a future research agenda.

This report has been produced under the Governance theme.

Authors: Professor Paul Hickman and Dr Jenny Preece.


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Date: December 10, 2019 9:00 am

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