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Resident engagement

Introduction

South Tyneside Homes manages the housing stock on behalf of South Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Housing Ventures Trust. This includes a diverse portfolio of accommodation types, including high rise, medium and low rise flats, houses and sheltered accommodation (locally branded as Housing Plus).

South Tyneside Homes adopts a pro-active approach to building safety and resident engagement. This continues to be refreshed to ensure that it reflects legislative obligations and good practice.

The Resident Engagement Strategy formalises our approach to providing information and advice to tenants about building safety and how we ensure that tenants have a voice in relation to building safety.

The Resident Engagement Strategy has been developed as part of our initial response to the Hackitt Review, but will continue to be updated and revised as any new regulations or best practice / guidance emerge. The document sets out what our current approach is and the next steps that we will take.

The scope of this strategy is specifically in relation to resident engagement on building safety, rather than our wider approach to tenant involvement which is covered separately.

This strategy sets out our approach to resident engagement for high rise, Housing Plus and complex buildings (Joseph Collin House and Riverside apartments)

Providing information and advice

We will proactively provide accessible information about the safety of each building to the tenants of each building. This information will be specific to each building.

We will provide new tenants with information about fire safety and general building safety at viewings and sign-ups. We carry out annual Home Safety checks for tenants in high rise properties. These are also to be rolled out to our Housing Plus properties. A Customer Evacuation assessment form will be completed and if required a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) will be completed for any tenant who requires it and sent to the fire service. Any tenants who would require assistance in the event of a fire are also included on the Assistance List. A new assessment is carried out if the tenant's circumstances have changed. The Assistance List is kept up to date with any changes and stored in the fire box, for the fire service to access in the event of an incident.

We use noticeboards, newsletters and fact sheets to reinforce key messages on building safety.

We will also carry out visits to tenants to discuss particular issues that may arise.

We will notify residents of any relevant notices issued by any statutory body or regulator in relation to safety.

We will carry out regular fire drills to reinforce to tenants the process for fire evacuations. We will review the outcomes from each fire drill and take action to resolve any issues that are identified.

If we are going to carry out major work we will demonstrate to tenants that work is being carried out and checked by suitably competent people, and that the correct materials and products are specified. We will explain to tenants the level of service that that they should be receiving, and what to expect during works.

Residents' voice

We value the input from tenants on how we can work together to provide safe accommodation. We guarantee that the voice from all tenants who raise a genuine concern will be listened to.

Tenants can raise concerns about any aspect of building safety with either their Neighbourhood Officer or Housing Plus Officer. Any remedial work required or concerns will be reported centrally to the Compliance team who will coordinate work to be carried out and ensure this is followed up. Issues relating to health and safety will be fast tracked. This will be escalated using the three stages of the company's corporate feedback system, if the tenant is not happy with the response received. If the tenant is still not satisfied at the end of stage 3, we will make them aware of their right to contact the local government ombudsman or other appropriate body such as the fire service. As any new statutory escalation procedures are introduced, we will make our tenants aware of these.

We will provide opportunities for tenants to be able to influence decisions relating to safety. We have in place bi-monthly resident meetings for our high rise tenants and our Housing Plus residents. The meetings will provide a forum for tenants to raise any concerns, receive updates and information and influence any planned works. We will follow the meetings up with newsletters so that tenants unable to attend still receive the key messages from the meeting. We will monitor the number of tenants attending meetings and take action to encourage high attendance.

The annual home safety checks also provide an opportunity for residents to raise any concerns that they might have. Tenants can also submit enquiries via their elected member or MP.

Where there are any plans where the work could impact on safety systems or is a significant refurbishment, then we will engage with residents in advance of decisions being taken, so that their views and concerns can be heard and taken into account. We will also provide feedback to residents on the final decision, and the reasons for it, as well as maintain ongoing communication and updates during the works.

Resident responsibilities

Tenants have a role to play in identifying and reporting issues that may impact on the safety of the building. In addition to this, they have a responsibility towards their neighbours to ensure that their actions do not compromise the safety of the building.

Tenants need to maintain building and fire safety protection measures in their flats. They will need to cooperate to ensure that essential safety checks can be carried out. This might include allowing gas safety checks or inspections of the fabric of the building to ensure that compartmentation and fire stops are sound. They also have an obligation to request permission for any alterations that they wish to make; work can only go ahead if there is a valid permit to work in place.

Tenants have a responsibility to:

  • adhere to any health and safety advice or instructions;
  • maintain clear landings and dispose of their rubbish properly;
  • report repairs or concerns;
  • keep fire doors closed;
  • store their scooter properly;
  • follow the procedure for fire evacuation;
  • inform us of any changes to their health that could affect their ability to evacuate safely in the event of a fire;
  • be aware of recalls for white goods;
  • adhere to advice on smoking and cooking.

Next steps

  • We will develop a summary sheet for residents setting out the layers of protection that are in place to protect the safety of their building.
  • We will publish a summary of the fire risk assessment for each building.
  • We will offer tenants the opportunity to attend fire safety training.
  • We will form a safety group with residents where joint inspections will take place to look at building safety.
  • We will allow tenants the right to request access to information about the 'golden thread' of safety information that is non-sensitive and possible to share.