Together with Tenants is a charter created by the National Housing Federation, in partnership with residents up and down the country to help build positive relationships between landlords and tenants.
The Social Housing White Paper, published in 2020, stated the importance of residents being able to hold landlords to account and the need for for trust and transparency.
The Together with Tenants charter supports this and provides a way for residents and housing providers to work together to make positive changes. West Kent has adopted the charter and will be working to ensure we meet all of its commitments. We worked with the scrutiny panel to look at how we were already meeting the commitments and to make sure the charter was right for us. They made a small change to the charter before its adoption it to add emphasis to the impact of complaints.
You can find out more about the charter by reading this letter to you from the National Housing Federation's independent Tenant Advisory Panel.
West Kent's six point Together with Tenants Charter:
1. Relationships: To treat all residents with respect in all of their interactions, and for relationships between residents and housing associations to be based on openness, honesty and transparency.
What we're doing: West Kent is a values led organisation and honesty, flexibility and integrity are at the core of our values. Staff receive 'making the difference' training to make sure we have consistently high standards of customer service and that staff feel empowered to make a difference in all their interactions with residents.
2. Communication: To send you clear, accessible and timely information on the issues that matter to you, including important information about your home and local community, how the organisation is working to address problems, how the organisation is run, and information about performance on key issues.
What we're doing: We provide regular, transparent communications on multiple channels. We send Neighbourhood News to all residents three times a year and we use our digital channels to keep residents up to date. Our West Kent is available on our website.
3. Voice and influence: To seek and value the views of residents and use this information to inform decisions. Every individual resident should feel listened to on the issues that matter to them and speak without fear.
What we're doing: West Kent have made it easy for residents to share their views and give us feedback in formal and informal ways. As well as sending out regular surveys, residents can find ways to get involved and share their views that work for them.
4. Accountability: To allow residents to collectively work in partnership to independently scrutinise and hold their housing association to account for the decisions that affect the quality of homes and services. Resident will understand the impact of complaints.
What we're doing: Involving residents at all levels of the organisation, including on West Kent's board which has resident board members. The scrutiny panel is provided with key performance information, including complaints and our response to them. They are supported to run independent, in-depth reviews of West Kent services and policies. We have introduced additional resident involvement options, such as resident inspectors, to give residents more ways to hold us to account.
5. Quality: To ensure homes are good quality, well maintained, safe and well managed.
What we're doing: We have increased our focus on building safety and compliance and have reshaped our property team to reflect this. We have introduced performance indicators around home standards.
6. When things go wrong: To provide residents with simple and accessible routes for raising issues, making complaints and seeking redress. And for residents to receive timely advice and support when things go wrong.
What we're doing: West Kent has a dedicated customer resolutions team to support residents when things go wrong. There is a clear, three stage complaints process with defined timelines for each stage. Our website provides an overview of the process. We are a member of the housing ombudsmen scheme and our complaints process was updated in line with the new 2020 code.