Release Date: 08/06/2012
Over the last year, nearly fifty households in Richmond upon Thames have been supported by the Council’s Tenants’ Champion, to resolve complaints which they felt had not been properly dealt with by their landlords.
The Tenants’ Champion, Cllr Lisa Blakemore, is the last resort for social housing tenants who have been unable to resolve issues through existing channels. She works in partnership with the tenants, local ward Councillors, social housing landlords and a wide range of agencies to help to find a resolution, where possible, that benefits all parties involved.
Cllr Blakemore said, “I have worked hard over the last year to help residents resolve issues ranging from small repairs and landlord disagreements, to antisocial behaviour complaints and people who want to make a move to improve their quality of life. In many cases the issue arises from a breakdown of communication on one side or the other, and my role is about working with both parties to find a positive outcome for both.
“Some of the cases we work on can be sensitive or even volatile. Often there can be vulnerable adults with mental or physical health issues involved. I do not have a magic wand and cannot fix things immediately – this role is about looking at new and different ways of working through issues, assisting residents and all involved at a very local level. Working well with local Housing Associations is vital for us in Richmond. So far, with the help of officers and working with local ward Councillors, we have had successful outcomes for all of the issues that have been brought to my attention, which is a great achievement.”
The Tenants’ Champion role has been praised nationally by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Deputy Housing Ombudsman who came to Richmond last year to share learning and discuss best practice and the way forward nationally.
David Done: Chief Executive, Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP), "Cllr Blakemore has consistently championed issues for local people, and works with RHP to try and find successful outcomes. Sometimes these are complex issues that involve a number of agencies, but her ability to adopt a balanced approach to advocating on behalf of customers has enabled us to work in partnership to deliver improved services. Cllr Blakemore has assisted RHP in sustaining high levels of customer satisfaction by raising our awareness of key issues for our customers and she works tirelessly to ensure that each customer’s individual needs are met.”
Cllr Nicola Urquhart added: “We are really leading the way with the Tenants’ Champion role in Richmond and it is something to be proud of. The Tenants’ Champion provides a supportive role. Cllr Blakemore will continue to strengthen the role with regards to working closely with registered housing associations to ensure areas of concern for tenants which may arise again can be minimised.”