Richmond Council has created a new role of Tenants’ Champion. The Tenants’ Champion role is to support tenants and leaseholders who rent or lease their property from a Housing Association in the Borough. If you are a private rented tenant the Council offers two other services to help you. A Housing Options Service providing advice on private sector tenancy matters and a Residential Service that provides advice and takes enforcement action against private landlords who are in breach of the law in relation to matters such as disrepair. The Tenants’ Champion is Councillor Lisa Blakemore.
The role of the Tenants' Champion
Sometimes you might experience problems with your housing association. It is important that if something goes wrong the first thing you do is get in touch with them and try to work out a solution. Initially this might be done informally, but sometimes you might need to go through a more formal complaints process with them.
If things don’t get resolved to your satisfaction then the next step is to contact your Councillor. However, some issues may be more complex, or be something that keeps occurring, or may affect many people - and it is here that the Tenants’ Champion can help.
To find out more about how the Tenants’ Champion works and the number and type of cases she helped with last year please read Tenants' Champion Annual Report for April 2011-March 2012(pdf, 811KB).
Contacting the Tenants' Champion or Ward Councillor
- Tenants, leaseholders or representatives of their residents’ associations are able to contact the Tenants' Champion online or via the Contact Centre on 08456 122 660, where staff will log the enquiry.
- You will be taken through a series of options to make sure your enquiry is handled in the best way.
- If you have not yet gone through the complaints process offered by your housing association you will be advised to contact them first. View a list of housing associations operating in the borough.
- If it is more appropriate for your local ward councillor to handle the problem you will be asked to select one Councillor to act for you. The Tenants’ Champion will be sent a copy of all enquiries submitted via this process.
- If it is more appropriate for the Tenants’ Champion to support you, she will contact you within 7 working days. Having contacted your housing association she expects to be back in touch with a response after a further 14 working days.
- Complex issues are likely to take more time to investigate. Response times after this will depend on the complexity of the issue raised. The same timescales apply where a Councillor is helping you.
- There may be times when timescales cannot be met, for example, if a Councillor is on holiday or is sick and unable to work. If there is a delay please get in touch through the Contact Centre.
In asking a Councillor to investigate an issue on your behalf, they will be acting as your representative and have the authority in law to discuss your situation without you needing to give them specific permission. If there is information of a confidential nature that you would not wish the Councillor to share with your landlord then please tell them. There may also be information that your landlord provides to your Councillor in confidence which they may not be able to share with you.
The Tenants’ Champion is not a substitute for the Housing Ombudsman Service. If you have been through your housing association’s complaints procedure and you are still not satisfied then you have the right to take your complaint to this service. They have the power to order and/or recommend remedies to the housing association that our Tenants’ Champion does not. The Housing Ombudsman Service will investigate complaints from leaseholders, where their landlord comes under their jurisdiction.
If a leaseholder wants to complain about the level of service charges then they need to contact the Residential Property Tribunal.