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  1. Critically assess key practical issues that face housing professionals in providing good services to residents;
  2. Analyse ways in which housing, community and other professionals can work together to resolve these issues;
  3. Critically explore how social housing tenants and other local residents can be involved in decision making;
  4. Evaluate current practice in social housing management, and implementation of good practice; and
  5. Examine and explain the interrelationship between residents’ rights and obligations.

What is Tenant Participation?

Tenant participation means that the local people of an area will have a say and opinion in matters that will affect their homes or even the community. This is one of the essential parts of housing management that is followed by the Government, Local Authorities, Housing Organizations and the tenants (Caincross, Clapham and Goodland 2013). Tenant participation helps in improving the standard of living in a community and the services and housing standards if that community. Tenant participation can be various things, from getting the residents or tenants of the community involved on various activities, or attending public meetings of the community (Suszy?ska 2015). It could even mean contributing to feedbacks regarding the community to make improvements in it. Getting involved in the decision making process of the community can have various advantages as well as disadvantages (Brown, Swan and Chahal 2014). This essay will explain Arnstein’s Ladder of Participation. The essay will further discuss the statement by Riseborough which states that tenant participation is self-evidently a good thing with reference to the ladder of participation. Furthermore, an outline of the advantages and disadvantages of tenant participation will be discussed in the essay followed by a conclusion.

The ladder of citizen participation was published by Sherry R Arnstein in the year 1969. In this ladder of citizen participation Arnstein used a ladder to explain the relationship between the community and the government for increasing the authority of decision making (Arnstein 2015). There are eight steps to this ladder with the bottom one being manipulation and the top step being citizen control. The other steps of the ladder are delegated power, partnership, placation, consultation, informing and therapy from top to bottom. Manipulation places the individuals present on the advisory boards approve to the decisions without properly considering them, to teach them the view of the agency and to make a false impression about the participation being a joy for the public (Kenny et al. 2015). Therapy involves various citizens in different activities by showing them that they are involved in the decision making process, but the experts try to cure them by putting them into clinical group therapies instead of solving the actual issue. Informing involves providing one way information to the citizens where they would not be able to provide any input or decision. Popular forms of one way communication are media, inquiry responses, pamphlets and meetings where information are just given not exchanged (Kenny et al. 2013). Consultation involves the participation of the citizens which in reality is feigned as there is no assurance on whether the opinion of the citizens would be incorporated in the decision making process or not. This kind of involvement is derived through surveys, meetings in the neighbourhood or public hearings. Placation depicts the concept of tokenism which means that a small group of minority individuals are involved in the participation and given the power to plan or provide advice but not really given the power to incorporate them into the decisions or make any decisions at all. Partnership involves the real participation of citizens along with the government and they agree with each other on the sharing of the decision formulation and planning process through various joint structures. It also means that neither of the parties would be able to unilaterally make any changes in the agreement, and it is also suggested that the citizens have access to resources as compared to the government (Chilvers and Kearnes 2015). Delegated power is when the citizens have the dominance position in the decision making process on the activities that would affect them so that they can understand and act according to the needs of the citizens. Thus dominance is reached through proper negotiations between the government and the citizens. Citizen control describes the concept of complete power for the citizens, however, the intent of this step is to provide policy and managerial control to the citizens and to provide certain conditions based on which the government can make changes in the program. Therefore, based on the above description it is evident that the Arnstein ladder of participation presents an overall presentation of the different ways in which the citizens if an area or a community can involve themselves in the decision making process of the community (Gooberman et al. 2013). The bottom stages from manipulation to placation gives the citizens the impression of being involved in the decision making process which they are nit whereas the rest of the three stages ensures that the power is with the citizens.

Arnstein’s Ladder of Participation

Social participation is an important concept of social housing which means the participation of the people of a community in the activities of the society or community. It means the active participation of the citizens in the formation and implementation of plans, procedures and policies to create a better life for the people of the community. The most common classification of citizen participation is the ladder of participation formulated by Armstrong. Tenant participation is a component of social of citizen participation. The statement that tenant participation is a good thing can be justified by comparing the different levels of  tenant participation with those of the ladder of participation. It can be seen that with the higher level of participation in the activities of the community the tenants are able to contribute more for the betterment of the society and also able to forge good relations with their owners which gives them a stable position in the society. When the tenants have full control which is citizen power then they are able to use their skills for the goodwill to the community.

 There are various advantages to tenant participation which can be beneficial for the citizens as well for the community. Tenant participation helps to provide better quality of service delivery to the community. When all the citizens are engaged together in the activities of the community then a better functioning will take place as the citizens will be able to understand the needs of the other tenants. This will also help in the improvement of the value of money as every task will be completed extensively. There will also be several opportunities for the citizens to enhance their skills and gain new knowledge by involving themselves in various types of activities which will help to gain new perspective of different areas. The involvement of citizens in the activities of the community will ensure better communication between the staff and the tenants which will be helpful in forming a good environment in the community (Goodwin and Heath 2016). There will also be better relationship and communication between the tenants living in the community and the landlords, as the landlords will realise the importance of the contribution that the tenants are making to the community. Encouraging tenant participation will increase the number of more knowledgeable and more informed group of tenants who will be able to provide good insights and opinions in the decision making process of the community. They will possess the required skills and confidence to do better for the community with their wide horizon of knowledge, which in turn will be beneficial for the community as well as its people. The staffs and the tenants will be able to understand each other’s perspectives, and financial limitations by being regularly engaged with each other (Wilcox 2014). Active tenant participation can help to eradicate any misunderstanding or issues between the tenants and the landlords and also help in building trust and proper communication between them. Thus will help them to form a good relationship of mutual understanding and respect. The tenants will be able to gain more satisfaction from their community and homes as they will themselves do the desired work to make the community and their homes a better place to live. There will also be a good job satisfaction for the staff with the involvement in better activities.

Advantages of Tenant Participation

There are various advantages to tenant participation, however, there are also various disadvantages to tenant participation as well. There might be lack of resources or monetary fund to pay for the desired activities of the community. Trying to arrange the required fund or the resources could take a lot of time which might disengage the tenants and make them divert from the real purpose of the participation (Power et al. 2014). The tenants who are normally present in the participation group eventually gains a lot of knowledge and skills while performing activities and the lack of proper support to enhance these skills in the long run can cause resentment among the tenants who might feel that they have no further performance to show. However, sometimes it may happen that a lot of activities that are happening within the community can lead to overwork among the tenants (Hegedus, Lux and Teller 2013). The tenants are people who are engaged in active life in everyday from professional to personal. To maintain a balance between their professional, personal and community life they might face over exhaustion. This could lead to the tenants hiring more and more people to decrease their workload which could finally lead to chaos. These disadvantages might lead the social landlords to not recognize the participation group of tenants as it leads to more chaos then functioning and peace within the community.

Therefore, it can be concluded form the above essay that even though tenant participation might be a good thing in terms of the citizens as it helps them to get more involved and make their place in the community. However, it can also create an adverse effect if they are unable to manage to the group and in turn dissatisfies the social landlords and ultimately lead to the revoking of the participation.    

References:

Arnstein, S.R., 2015. A ladder of citizen participation. The City Reader, 6th edn. London: Routledge, pp.279-292.

Brown, P., Swan, W. and Chahal, S., 2014. Retrofitting social housing: reflections by tenants on adopting and living with retrofit technology. Energy Efficiency, 7(4), pp.641-653.

Caincross, L., Clapham, D. and Goodlad, R., 2013. Housing management, consumers and citizens. Routledge.

Chilvers, J. and Kearnes, M. eds., 2015. Remaking participation: Science, environment and emergent publics. Routledge.

Gooberman?Hill, R., Burston, A., Clark, E., Johnson, E., Nolan, S., Wells, V. and Betts, L., 2013. Involving patients in research: considering good practice. Musculoskeletal care, 11(4), pp.187-190.

Goodwin, M. and Heath, O., 2016. Brexit vote explained: poverty, low skills and lack of opportunities. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 31.

Hegedus, J., Lux, M. and Teller, N. eds., 2013. Social housing in transition countries (Vol. 10). Routledge.

Kenny, A., Farmer, J., Dickson?Swift, V. and Hyett, N., 2015. Community participation for rural health: a review of challenges. Health Expectations, 18(6), pp.1906-1917.

Kenny, A., Hyett, N., Sawtell, J., Dickson-Swift, V., Farmer, J. and O’Meara, P., 2013. Community participation in rural health: a scoping review. BMC Health Services Research, 13(1), p.64.

Power, A., Provan, B., Herden, E. and Serle, N., 2014. The impact of welfare reform on social landlords and tenants. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Suszy?ska, K., 2015. Tenant participation in social housing stock management. Real Estate Management and Valuation, 23(3), pp.47-53.

Wilcox, S., 2014. Housing benefit size criteria: Impacts for social sector tenants and options for reform. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  

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