9:34 AM, 15th November 2012, About 9 years ago 6
Position: CEO of TPAS (Tenant Participation Advisory Service)
Michelle has kindly answered the following questions:-
I joined TPAS as Chief Executive in April 2009. Prior to that I spent seven years as Chief Executive of George House Trust, a leading HIV social care charity. I’ve had a rich and varied career in social housing, particularly in care and support, but also at senior management level. I set up the first government-funded rough sleeper project in the North of England, and also specialised in work with young homeless people and people with substance use issues. I’m committed to the tenant empowerment agenda, and work to achieve an inclusive approach to planning and providing services. I advocate for effective partnership working between tenants, providers, contractors and government, and work with people at all levels of decision making in the UK in order to ensure positive outcomes for all.
TPAS is the leading national tenant involvement membership organisation. We are at the forefront of joining up government policy with front-line service delivery and tenant groups.
The PRS has shown consistent growth over the last decade but demand far outstrips supply with the largest lettings agencies estimating that there are 4.5 people looking to rent each property. Fulfilling this demand is obviously a major challenge and is something that has a direct bearing on the quality of housing available to those seeking to rent privately. I believe this lack of choice available to tenants has contributed to statistics in the recent revelation that more than 40% of privately rented flats and houses in England are in “non-decent” condition. That’s over 1.4 million households living in poor housing. Improving the standard of these properties and contributing to the expansion of government house building targets are big challenges for the PRS.
We also have to encourage the Private Rented Sector not to turn its back on people on benefits. Recent reports highlighted that 4 out of 5 private landlords in a major city were refusing to consider tenants claiming Housing Benefit. As the housing crisis deepens, that’s bad news for people who have no hope of gaining a social housing tenancy. Private Rented Sector organisations like “Dssmove” should be highlighted and encouraged in their welcoming approach to benefit-claiming tenants.
Changes in legislation have meant that private landlords are already becoming more involved in the social housing sector. We’ve seen 17 “for profit” social housing providers register with the HCA, a number I expect to grow, while other changes will see the PRS housing more homeless people. I feel that there is definitely a role for private landlords to play in the social housing sector if they are mindful of the responsibilities that accompany the opportunities the sector has to offer. The PRS can create great partnerships with existing social providers to increase the choice and meet the demand for homes across Britain. In my view, those landlords that will flourish in the new landscape are those who demonstrate a willingness to understand the range of needs, skills and aspirations of a growing tenant body. We see it working in the social sector on a daily basis, and I hope that we will convince private landlords that involving your tenants is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do for your business. TPAS will be happy to support the PRS in this.
TPAS recognises the Private Rented Sector as our growing partner. Good private landlords address a clear housing need for tenants, whilst seeing the business case for working in partnership with their tenants to improve standards. We’re committed to working more closely with private sector landlords and tenants in the future as more and more people in need will be housed in private accommodation. We support any sector, organisation, business or individual who share our aims – to drive up standards through excellent tenant involvement. We therefore value and support the intentions and aspirations of the ‘Good Landlords Campaign’ as it aims to facilitate integrity and strong communication between landlords and tenants.
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