Tenants should be a central part of any changes to the private rented sector, yet their voices are often absent and excluded from meaningful debate. In response to this, the Nationwide Foundation is awarding £804,841 of funding to support private rented sector tenants by giving them a stronger voice in the debates on their personal housing issues or in housing matters in their local area.
Organisations will use the funding to provide tenants with:
• greater access to information and advice on the private rented sector
• enhanced understanding of their rights
• safe places to come together
• support to speak up
• opportunities to work together.
The Nationwide Foundation’s tenants’ voice programme supports projects that specifically help tenants whose personal circumstances – such as low-income, disadvantaged and vulnerable households – mean that they cannot avoid the potential problems of living in the private rented sector. Problems they face include insecurity, poor living conditions, high costs and severe lack of choice, which therefore puts them at increased risk of harm. The seven funded organisations are:
• Camden Federation of Private Tenants, working with local authorities in London, connecting key officers and politicians with renters, so that issues are better understood, tenants’ voices are clearly heard, and local authority practice is improved
• Citizens Advice, establishing a panel of private rented sector tenants across England to speak out on behalf of tenants, giving them a voice in policy decisions
• Housing Rights, strengthening the voice of private renters in Northern Ireland by building capacity among tenants and contributing to a culture among stakeholders which values tenant participation
• Living Rent, testing the model of tenant union neighbourhood branches to support tenants on low-incomes or from migrant backgrounds in Glasgow
• Shelter, using a community organising model to bring together and empower tenants across the West of England Combined Authority
• Tenants Union, elevating the voices of Greater Manchester’s tenants through the creation of a tenant-led housing manifesto
• Z2K, helping tenants who were homeless or vulnerably housed to use their voices and have their stories heard, while campaigning on issues identified by these tenants.
The Nationwide Foundation’s programme manager, Bridget Young, says: “Too often the voices of private tenants, especially those on low incomes or facing other disadvantages, are not sought or heard. There’s real appetite to grow an energetic, purposeful tenants’ voice movement, and we hope this funding will lead to tenants becoming a normal and expected part of the advisory process. Giving tenants the freedom and space to have stronger voices in debates on the private rented sector and housing, will mean positive changes in policy and practice, including better rights for tenants.”
Notes to editors
Camden Federation of Private Tenants Grant of £100,371 for two years
Purpose of the grant: To connect key officers and politicians with renters via the local democratic process, so that renters’ issues are better understood, their voices are clearly heard, and local authority practice is better developed to meet the needs of private renters in London.
Citizens Advice Grant of £131,336 for 18 months
Purpose of the grant: To establish a research panel of private rented sector tenants across England which will be surveyed and interviewed quarterly. Citizens Advice will use this project to promote the stories and voices of private rented sector tenants to influence policy decisions and achieve positive change for private renters’ rights.
Housing Rights Grant of £177,623 for three years
Purpose of the grant: To engage with vulnerable private rented sector tenants in Northern Ireland, building the capacity and confidence of these tenants, and supporting them to participate in and influence policy and practice debates that relate to the sector.
Living Rent Grant of £56,829 for two years
Purpose of the grant: To create two new branches of the Scottish Living Rent tenant union, in two neighbourhoods of Glasgow. These areas have been chosen because the project wishes to focus on engaging and empowering tenants on a low-income or from a migrant background and where there is a prevalence of challenges from living in the private rented sector.
Shelter Grant of £100,000 for three years
Purpose of the grant: To use the community organising model to bring together and empower private rented sector tenants to build a movement for positive change within the private rented sector across the West of England Combined Authority area.
Tenants Union Grant of £88,682 for 21 months
Purpose of the grant: To elevate the voices of Greater Manchester tenants through the creation of a tenant-led housing manifesto, which would campaign for changes to policy and practice in Greater Manchester and beyond.
Z2K Grant of £150,000 for three years
Purpose of the grant: To help homeless and vulnerably housed tenants to use their voices and have their stories heard, while campaigning on issues identified by these tenants.
This funding has been given as part of the Nationwide Foundation’s Transforming the Private Rented Sector programme. The Nationwide Foundation wants to see a future for private renting where tenants are able to access and sustain their tenancies; where landlords and letting agents deliver a high quality of service to tenants; where tenants have a strong voice in the debates about housing; and where tenants have robust rights which are effectively enforced.
This stream of dedicated funding will strengthen, support and champion the growth of tenants’ voice work, so that private rented sector tenants have more of a say in the issues that affect their lives and homes.