A Frome Association for Private Tenants?
Tenants in the social housing sector (councils and housing associations) have for many years been able to get together to represent their interests and influence their landlords. They've done this through local, community-based Tenants and Residents Associations, sometimes forming wider Federations, by forming campaign groups to improve particular services, or by forming committees and panels to give feedback to their social landlords (e.g. 'service improvement groups') to play an active role in decision-making (e.g. contractor selection panels), or to formally scrutinise and assess areas of the housing service. Many social landlords have recognised the importance of encouraging and supporting the engagement of their tenants, employing teams of 'Tenant Participation Officers'. Some tenants' groups have had more of a community or social role - bringing people together, holding coffee-mornings, fun-days, street parties etc. - others have had more of a formal role. In many housing associations, their Management Boards have allocated places specifically for tenant representatives.
The situation for many private tenants is different than for social housing tenants; generally private sector tenants are less secure, have fewer rights, and pay higher rents. But isn't this all the more reason for private sector tenants to get together and have a collective voice? And isn't it time that private landlords recognised that tenant participation and influence are important, and that listening to tenants is part of providing a good housing service?
What do you think? Would an Association for Private Tenants in Frome (and surrounding areas) be a good idea? If so, what form should it take, and how might it be established?
Some private tenants might be worried about getting involved in such an initiative, fearing that landlords would see them as 'trouble-makers' - just as happened in the past in the social housing sector. What could be done to guard against this?