The consortium is a collaboration between seven Welsh housing associations, with all of us seeking to combine our resources, expertise and experience to improve the quality and capability of projects, so that we can all continue to provide excellent services in our communities.
The associations involved are:
- Newydd Housing Association
- Cadwyn Housing Association
- First Choice Housing Association
- Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association
- Caredig Housing Association
- Cynon Taf Community Housing Group
- RHA Wales Group Ltd
As like-minded community RSLs (registered social landlords), we all share common values and goals, but we also face similar challenges when it comes to key areas in procurement, health and safety, assets and legal, as well as consistency in how we communicate with our communities, as we share not just counties, but sometimes even streets.
With the Welsh Government putting the Renting Homes Wales Act 2016 (RHWA) into effect in December 2022, we recognised the benefits of collaboration in being able to communicate the changes to the contracts with staff, as well as with tenants in the right way at the right time.
Together, we were able to procure a consortium contract with Blake Morgan Solicitors, who provided specialist legal services required to implement the RHWA across our organisations and communities. The contract included the drafting of the new occupation contracts, staff training and bespoke advice. This approach ensured that all our staff were able to ask questions of the legal experts on what the Act meant for specialist areas such as supported housing, as well as understand how the new legislation gave enhanced rights to tenants.
We also share a Project Manager, who is hosted by Cynon Taf, and has supported the consortium through:
- Managing the contract with Blake Morgan and ensuring spend on legal services was coordinated and value for money.
- Co-ordinating the sharing of knowledge and best practice across the Consortium by organising and chairing specialist leads meetings and managing leads projects.
Several specialist groups were set up to support the relevant changes:
- Steering Group
- Repairs and Assets Management
- Supported Accommodation
What we’ve achieved so far…
RHWA was implemented successfully across our organisations, which is down to the hard work of the teams in the seven RSLs, but also because of the shared project management, a comprehensive implementation plan and effective risk management that was delivered through the consortium. The sharing of resources and costs ensured that all our policies and procedures reflected the changes set out by Welsh Government.
By sharing legal advice associated with housing management, as well as the new fitness for human habitation (FFHH) implications, it meant that across the seven of us, there is a consistent approach and each of our teams involved know and understand how to manage the post Act challenges that we may come across.
We also ensured that throughout the preparation for RHWA implementation, as well as the months that have followed, that we were able to pool our communications resources – being able to access resources such as graphic design and content writing, as well as strategic outcomes – to provide consistent information to our communities on what the new Act meant for them.
Plans for the future
The success of the consortium in RHWA delivery has meant that the collaboration has been extended for the foreseeable future, which is a testament to the work that everyone involved has put in to ensure its success. It also shows the difference that partnership working can have when it comes to key business areas and delivering best practice.
Over the coming months, we will be working on projects including:
Investing in communications campaigns that will support our communities with:
- Dealing with damp, mould and condensation
- The ongoing cost-of-living crisis
- Affordable warmth
- Understanding decarbonisation
- Consideration of shared procurement of legal services
We will also continue to share resources, skills, experience, performance and benchmarking information, as well as best practice.