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How will social landlords approach the new tenant satisfaction measures announced in the social housing regulation bill? A survey by Inside the housingin association with the digital services company Capita, discovers

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How will social landlords approach the new tenant satisfaction measures announced in the social housing regulation bill? Survey by @insidehousing in association with @Capita_TS uncovers #UKhousing (sponsored)

The Social Housing Regulation Bill allows tenants to rate their landlord. Social landlords should start collecting data from April 2023 and the regulator should publish the data at the end of 2024 #UKhousing @Capita_TS (sponsored)

Glenn Allan, Product Manager – Housing @Capita_TS says, “The internal resource to manage data has been a long-standing issue for organizations. To get the most out of data, an organization must devote time and effort to analyzing it. » #UKhousing (sponsored)

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Tenant engagement has always been a topic of discussion in the industry. But in recent years, the issue has been back on the agenda. The main reason for this is the terrible events at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, when 72 people lost their lives. It later emerged that the tenants had warned their tenant management organization that the building was an impending tragedy. This led the government to swear that “never again will the voice of the locals be heard”. The years that followed also saw a series of high-profile exposes by tenants living in dilapidated conditions despite numerous attempts to get their landlord to repair their home.

This culminated in the government publishing its long-awaited Social Housing Regulation Bill this month. This means underperforming owners face Ofsted-style inspections and unlimited fines. Tenants will also have more votes when the proposals become law. This will include a new 250-person Residents’ Panel who will meet every four months to share their experiences with government ministers. Housing association tenants will also be able to request information from their landlord, similar to how the Freedom of Information Act works for public bodies.

Tenants will also be able to assess their landlord under new measures. In this context, the Social Housing Regulator launched a 12-week consultation last December. Social landlords are expected to start collecting data from April 2023, with the regulator due to release the first set of data in fall 2024.

But how are social landlords preparing for these new measures? A new survey of Inside the housing, in partnership with Capita, reveals that many have already stepped up their tenant engagement efforts. However, some question whether they have the resources to process more data, whether they have the proper data entry systems, and whether tenants are willing to participate in more surveys.

The survey, answered by 142 respondents, found that 77% of social landlords have taken action in the past 12 months to improve tenant engagement levels. Among these are the recruitment of new employees, including a person dedicated to the mission of tenant engagement, the implementation of a new panel of customer offers and monthly e-newsletters.

At Hertfordshire-based Settle Housing Association, a ‘Settle Voice’ group now has around 250 residents who advise on a range of topics depending on their interests and time available.

It also has a “Voice of the Customer” panel – a resident team whose role is to advocate for the voice of all Settle customers with its Board of Directors, including a focus on learning from complaints . “Our regeneration programs are also supported by active steering groups of residents and we have also established a new board committee with a mission that includes engagement,” says Joe Williams, Housing Director at Settle .

Glenn Allan, Product Manager – Housing at Capita, says: “It is encouraging to see that over three-quarters of respondents have started this journey, but it is clear that more work needs to be done around tenant engagement. , ensuring that it is sufficiently inclusive.

Landlords already seem fairly engaged in the regulator’s tenant satisfaction measures, with 77% saying they have submitted comments to the regulator’s consultation on the measures.

The majority of suppliers are taking steps internally to prepare for the measures. Of those who responded, 45% said they were “well prepared and looking forward to adopting them”, while 43% said they were “in the know and making early preparations”. A small minority (7%) said they were aware of it but had not made any preparations so far.

Some reservations

As the sector prepares for a new era, there are some caveats. Nearly a third said they are not convinced that tenant satisfaction measures will have the desired impact. “We are concerned that there are too many questions and that residents will experience survey fatigue,” said one survey respondent. Another said the questions were ‘too broad’ and ‘can be misunderstood’. Meanwhile, another commented: ‘I’m not sure all the metrics offered are actually measuring the right thing.

Allister Young, managing director of Cornwall-based Coastline Housing, says: “Tenant satisfaction measures by themselves will not have the desired effect. But, in general, I think they will improve the focus on customer service, especially if combined with a change in regulatory approach. »

The survey also revealed social landlords’ concerns about tenants’ lack of commitment to the new satisfaction measures. More than half (51%) said they were worried about it. Again, tenant “survey fatigue” was cited as a potential problem. Also interestingly, 79% of survey respondents indicated that telephone was still the preferred method of contact for their tenants, followed by email (49%) and in person (35%).

In numbers

Number of people on a new panel of residents who will meet with the government

People from a group of residents in Settle

Respondents who took action to improve tenant engagement levels

Respondents who said the phone was still the preferred method of contact for tenants

Another question revealed that the majority (53%) found that less than half of residents responded to their last tenant satisfaction survey. However, many landlords are content to survey a sample of residents. For example, one association said that of the 6,000 units it has, only 1,400 tenants are interviewed.

A third of housing associations said they were concerned about not having the internal resources to manage the data, while almost a fifth (18%) agreed that collecting the new data in an understandable format could be a problem.

A similar proportion cited “inability to collect data effectively” as a potential problem. One respondent said, “There can be challenges to overcome in all areas.

The issue of data entry seems to be a recurring theme for owners. When asked if there was something within their organization that was causing a problem with managing tenant engagement, 31% said their data capture systems were not sufficient. A quarter said they were only “moderately satisfied” with how their organization uses data and analytics to assess the tenant experience, while 17% said they were not satisfied . One respondent said they were investing in new software to improve the situation.

Mr. Allan de Capita adds, “The internal resource to manage data is a long-standing problem for organizations, and I have experienced it myself; to get true value from data, an organization must be willing to spend time and effort on data analysis. in order to get the benefits further down the line.

So while the sector, as a whole, looks set to embrace the new landscape of tenant engagement, there are concerns about how the system will settle. Along with other competing priorities – such as building safety and decarbonization – social landlords will have to navigate investing time, money and resources on the issue. They will also need to find the best way to interpret data and apply learnings effectively. But as has been shown, listening to tenant concerns should never be underestimated.