A new revised Scottish Social Housing Charter came into force on the 1st April this year. The Charter was first introduced five years ago as one of the provisions of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010, with the aim of improving the quality and value of services provided by social landlords in Scotland.
The revised Charter is the result of an extensive consultation process involving a range of stakeholders including social landlords, tenants and representative bodies.
Although the outcomes of the new Charter are largely the same as for its predecessor, there are some important changes in emphasis. For instance, there is an explicit recognition of the role of new technology such as web-based systems and mobile applications in improving communication between landlords and their tenants.
The most recent changes to the Charter also point to a growing recognition of the role of tenant scrutiny as a means of improving performance, achieving efficiencies and delivering improved outcomes in social landlords’ housing activities. In relation to tenant involvement, one particularly notable inclusion is a direct reference to supporting tenants to scrutinise landlord services. Coupled to this, social landlords are now expected to actively involve tenants and other customers in reviewing how they deliver value for money.
As part of CIH Scotland’s Housing Festival, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart recently launched a practice guide and training toolkit to help landlords and tenants achieve more effective scrutiny.
Over the next five years, we can expect to see even more active engagement in tenant scrutiny of landlord services. The scrutiny resources combined with the revised Charter offer landlords the opportunity to fine tune their services to be as responsive as they possibly can be to the needs of tenants.
Marian Reid is Deputy Director of CIH Scotland.
To download the Scottish Government funded scrutiny practice guide and training toolkit go to http://www.cih.org/scotland-tenant-scrutiny-programme
The Scottish Government is funding a series of free information events aimed at tenants and landlords and delivered by TPAS Scotland and Tenants Information Service (TIS), looking at the changes that have been made to the Charter.