Accounting for the uncountable: tenant participation in housing modernisation

Ian Cole, Paul Hickman and Barbara Reid
17th Jun 1999

Tenant participation and choice in housing modernisation are now firmly established in the regime of most social landlords.

This report looks at the ways in which housing organisations decide how, and how much, involvement should be given to tenants. Based on a study of four social landlords in northern England, the research found that it is extremely difficult to identify precisely the costs and benefits of tenant involvement in housing modernisation and improvement.

However, from the case study evidence, the authors were able to point out which aspects of tenant involvement may carry a 'cost' as well as giving 'benefits' to tenants. The 'nuts and bolts' of the process include the effective use of:

  • Tenant satisfaction surveys
  • Analysis of project, administration, maintenance and running costs
  • Points systems and menus to be given to tenants
  • Life-cycle costings.

With the advent of Tenant Participation Compacts, this report points the way forward to more effective and flexible models for tenant participation in housing improvement schemes. It also offers valuable suggestions and questions for housing managers on topics such as: the extent of tenant participation; standardisation or innovation; evaluations of real costs; Housing Plus aspects of the processes; contracting in or out; set menus or ‘à la carte’; and collaboration or control.