Safe and decent - what social landlords can do to protect homes and communities

Landlords take their responsibilities towards their tenants and their property very seriously. This responsibility covers not only repairs, rents, tenancy conditions and maintenance of common areas; but also safety and decent standards. Tenants have a corresponding duty to  take care of their property, abide by agreed rules, respect their neighbours and pay their rent regularly. Recognising these two sides of a coin is the core task of housing and neighbourhood management.

Judith Hackitt's invasive review of buildings covers not only building safety, but the whole approach to construction, maintenance, management and relations between landlords and tenants. Many of the challenges of fire safety depend on specific conditions, but some principles are overriding.

Relations between landlords, repairs firms and in house repair teams are vital to performance, tenant satisfaction, building security and overall conditions. Repairs are the biggest source of complaints, simultaneously repair workers provide potentially an invaluable link between tenants and landlords. They are an underused, and to often under performing, under supervised, under qualified resource. If rented homes are to be made safe and decent this must change.

The government's reviews of the Decent Homes Standard is considering not only how to regulate adequately, while allowing sufficient flexibility to adapt to local conditions. It is looking at council landlords, ALMO's, TMO's, Communty-led housing and empty homes among other things.

One of the most far reaching ideas is to introduce energy efficiency as part of the new Decent Homes Standard. This potentially opens the door to significant investment in repairs, upgrading and reduced fuel poverty. It also helps tenants with their bills and raises the quality of social housing.

These are some of the themes we will discuss, and  also share ideas on the Think Tank. Please come and contribute your experiences and know-how. We hope government officials and other leading policy makers will attend. We want to push our headline findings from the Think Tank our to the very widest audience.


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