Rights boost for Borders social housing tenants

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a CHARTER that sets out 12 standards and outcomes which social landlords should be achieving for their tenants has been welcomed by the boss of the Scottish Borders Housing Association.

Chief executive Julia Mulloy was responding to Monday’s launch of Scotland’s Social Housing Charter (SHC) by housing and transport minister Keith Brown MSP.

Mr Brown said the charter, which came into force this week, would affect more than 21 per cent of households in the Borders and had been drawn up following extensive consultation with social landlords and their tenants.

“This empowers tenants across the Borders to hold their landlords to account for the services they deliver by stating clearly and in plain language what they and other customers can expect from their landlord,” said Mr Brown.

“We have worked to develop standards and outcomes that the best landlords are already achieving. The challenge now is for all landlords to match the performance of the best.

“It also provides the basis for the new Scottish Housing Regulator to assess and report on how well landlords are performing: to identify where they are doing well and where they need to improve.

“Effective tenant participation is key to landlords delivering services that tenants want and it is crucial landlords take account of the views and priorities of their tenants in shaping their services.

“We will use the regulator’s reports to ensure public investment in new social housing goes only to landlords assessed as doing well.”

Under the SHC, tenants must find it easy to participate in decisions which affect them; must live in well maintained neighbourhoods where they feel safe; and must receive services that provide continually improving value for the rent and other charges they pay.

Cathie Fancy, Scottish Borders Council’s group manager for housing strategy and services, said: “This will clarify the standard of service that people can expect from the council and from the registered social landlords [including SBHA, Eildon, Waverley and Berwickshire] in the Borders.”

Ms Mulloy, whose association has about 6,000 rented properties and is by far the biggest social landlord in the region, said: “I welcome the charter. Our staff, board and our Scottish Borders Tenants Organisation [SBTO] members have been participating in a Scottish Government consultation programme, attending events in Edinburgh and Galashiels over the last year, and we are pleased to see the outcomes of these discussions reflected in the charter.

“SBHA works with tenants to develop services so they can influence the quality and type of service they receive and we are in a strong position to meet the requirements of the charter.

“Over the past year, the SBTO has been central to the success of the ‘pay to stay’ rent campaign as well as the revision of information packs for new tenants and the Church Square neighbourhood project in Galashiels.”

Ms Mulloy said that any SBHA tenants wanting to become involved with the SBTO, should contact tenant participation worker Alison Notman on 01750 724444.