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How to become an active tenant or resident

The housing needs of LGBT people remain poorly understood. This lack of understanding is reflected throughout the whole provision of housing services, from the lack of housing for older LGBT people, to the few advice services providing LGBT-specific information, to the reality of anti-LGBT harassment in the neighbourhood. As an individual you can play an important role in highlighting these issues and encouraging relevant bodies, including local authorities to take action.

On this page:

What does the role involve?
What will I get out of this?
What will I be expected to give back?
What skills do I need?
How much time will I be expected to give?
How do I get involved?

What does the role involve?

Since 2001 local authorities and registered social landlords have been required by law to establish strategies to increasing tenant participation. This means that tenants and residents have the right to be consulted about issues that affect their homes. Local authorities have worked with existing tenants and residents associations, helping local communities to set up associations in their area, held public meetings and worked with individual tenants to develop a positive strategy to ensure that everyone has a say in the decision making process.

This new system allows tenants to become involved in a number of different ways. You could:

  • Become a housing association board member
    Housing associations are one of the main providers of housing in Scotland. They are run by management boards that are staffed by volunteer members. This is an effective way to have a direct influence over housing policy and priorities. It is important that housing associations are run by people who have an understanding and awareness of the needs of all tenants, so a representative and diverse membership is essential.

  • Join the tenants or residents association
    There are lots of tenants and residents associations across Scotland. They are set up and run by local people to represent their views and to work for improvements in local services. Some are organised to cover a few streets or a whole estate, whilst others represent people in certain types of homes, for example high rise flats or sheltered housing.

    The committee of a tenants or residents association meets regularly to discuss issues, decide what action they should be taking and organise activities. They act as a local ‘watchdog’, protecting the interests of residents and working for improvements in local services generally. They may also organise a range of other activities.

    Many local authorities provide funding and support to tenants and residents associations, helping them to cover costs such as stationary or room hire for meetings.

    Getting involved with your local tenants or residents association is a great way for you to take part in the decision making process about housing conditions, services, housing policy and the wider issues affecting your neighbourhood (for example graffiti or disruptive or anti-social tenants). It’s also an effective way to raise issues around anti-LGBT discrimination, harassment or abuse.

  • Focus groups, tenants panels and public meetings
    Housing providers are exploring new ways to engage tenants and residents with the decision making process on a range of housing issues. Getting involved in either a focus group, tenants panel or attending a public meeting is a great way to make sure your views are being heard. These methods of tenant participation and consultation mean that you do not have to be a member of a tenants or residents association to get involved.

  • Taking part in surveys
    Many housing associations use postal and door-to-door surveys to consult residents on housing related issues. If you are unable to get involved with your tenants or residents association or cannot attend meetings then take the opportunity to register your views by responding to surveys.

    What will I get out of this?

    Becoming an active resident or tenant is a great way to make sure that the issues that are important to you as an LGBT person are being considered. Making sure that your housing provider has a harassment clause in tenancy agreements, a confidential reporting system for anti-LGBT harassment and an increased awareness of LGBT issues can improve your experiences as a tenant.

    If you become involved with your tenants or residents association you will gain valuable experience in working with as part of a team. You may also get the chance to take on extra responsibilities, such as becoming the Treasurer or Secretary.


    What will I be expected to give back?

    Your time. Tenants and residents associations receive a lot of support from local authorities which can make your role a lot easier.


    What skills do I need?

    No specific skills or experience are required, however it helps to be aware of some of the important housing related issues for LGBT people.


    How much time will I be expected to give?

    It depends how involved you become. If you want to take an active role in the tenants or residents association then you can expect to give a few hours each month for meetings.


    How do I get involved?

    Your local authority should have a list of all registered tenants and residents associations. You could also try your local library, who hold listings of meetings and events in your area. The majority of local authorities and housing associations have Tenants participation Officers who should be able to tell you what’s going on and how to get involved.

    Useful Contacts

    Scottish Tenants Organisation
    304 Ellon Park
    KY7 6UY


    Tenants Information Service
    Suite 335
    Baltic Chambers
    50 Wellington Street
    G2 6HJ


    Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
    38 York Place
    EH1 3HU

    tel: 0131 556 5777

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