How do Social and Public Housing Associations respond to tenant needs? It is hard to imagine a better example of responsiveness to tenant needs than what is taking place in Copenhagen. I recently met Ulia Gregor who works for a large social housing organization called DAB Copenhagen. In fact, her organization has over 50,000 units.
One of the most important parts of tenant democracy in Denmark is the tenant boards. Each housing estate elects its own tenant boar at a yearly meeting. The boards of the individual estates assemble a larger assembly on top of that. There is one annual meeting each year. They elect a board, approve budget and rent, decide on maintenance and renovating as well as local rules. This is quite a powerful right that the tenants have. The administrator of the housing does give suggestions but the board have the final ruling. The tenants can decide on major renovations. If there are disagreements there are regulations in place to have municipal assistance in deciding.
The DAB believe that a board is key to a well-functioning housing association. The cooperation with the board members is characterized by due diligence, initiative and loyalty. There is a handbook that interested person can find ERHIN Responsible Housing.
Tools for Tenant Boards;
The housing association has put forth several tools to empower the boards.
- They use as tools a dedicated web portal for the tenant board members.
- They also have a variety of courses for board members
- Yearly meetings
- A free weekend seminar each year for chairmen and chairwomen of the local housing companies
- A tour by DAB high-level executives to hold meetings with tenant democrats in local settings.
For the future, a strong tenant democracy should play more of an important role with social and public housing associations. We need special rights for elderly migrants, young people and families.
This model being used in Denmark serves as a great example in listening to our tenants when thinking about meeting tenant diversity.