21 Jul 2023

New report on engaging with tenants to sustain their tenancies by a research collaboration involving the Chartered Institute of Housing

The Holding on to Home study is examining tenancy sustainment in social housing. One of the primary objectives of the research, which is collaboration between Sheffield Hallam University, the Chartered Institute of Housing, Qa Research, and HQN, is to provide evidence and guidance which can be used by landlords to inform their approaches to tenancy sustainment.

Some of the key learning from the study to date is presented in the latest emerging insights briefing, which explores landlord and tenant engagement in relation to tenancy sustainment.

The publication, entitled Engaging with tenants to sustain their tenancies: insights from interviews with case study stakeholders draws on data generated from 32 in-depth interviews with officers from Holding on to Home's four case study landlords: East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Southern Housing, Stockport Homes and whg (Walsall Housing Group).

The key learning to emerge for landlords is:

  • Landlords should employ engagement methods that are tailored to the needs of all tenant population groups. Landlords reported that providing a varied range of methods and offering the tenant choice over their interaction with the landlord were key.
  • Interaction, communication, and conversation between tenant and landlord does not, in itself, constitute meaningful ‘engagement’ from which positive outcomes will necessarily flow. Recognising this fact, case study landlords – in different ways, and at different stages of their journey – were all engaged in efforts to maximise the ‘quality and impact of their engagement with tenants’.
  • A range of approaches may be used to support quality interactions. Across the case study landlords, some common approaches were employed, including: targeting engagement; developing detailed knowledge and understanding of tenants’ needs and circumstances; utilising third sector partner organisations and community based teams; changing the nature of the conversation; and, making every conversation count.
  • Having a local presence within communities can help foster relationships between landlord and tenant, and make landlords more accessible. To this end, the case studies had put in place a range of initiatives including: estate walkabouts; community drop-in sessions; and multi-agency community events. However, developing a strong local presence comes with challenges: it is relatively resource intensive; difficult for landlords whose stock is dispersed; and, tenants may be reluctant to share their stories with officers working in the community. Engaging with tenants in proactive and preventative ways involves landlords having more contact with tenants and, potentially, initiating conversations about their financial situations (and, potentially, personal circumstances). As such, this brings ethical considerations to which landlords will need to give due regard as they progress their efforts to engage more effectively with tenants.

For more information on Holding on Home, you can visit the dedicated website: https://holdingontohome.org/