The widely-reported Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) inquest last year highlighted the potentially devastating impact when tenant care is neglected.
After the inquest, the Social Housing Regulator issued an order in December 2022 requiring all housing providers with more than 1,000 households to publish their damp and mould inspections for each property. They were also required to describe the steps they would take to address damp-related problems as well as their procedures for handling tenants’ complaints in a timely manner.
Prioritising their investments to address these crucial issues will enable housing providers to meet the obligations set out in the long-awaited Social Housing (Regulation) Bill. This bill focuses on increasing protection for tenants, empowering them to ensure more effective relationships and outcomes with housing providers.
With this in mind, housing providers should take the opportunity to adopt a tenant-led service delivery model alongside the successful transition to technology-enabled services.
Technology strategies across our sector should be based on three key considerations:
1. Improving tenant communication
Building effective two-way communications ensures a seamless and auditable trail of contact between housing providers and their tenants. From the point where potential jobs are requested through to the conclusion of any subsequent work, reliable and timely digital communication is critical to success and can ensure that accurate information is made available to all relevant stakeholders.
2. Optimising service delivery
Improving work scheduling while also ensuring staff have everything they need to complete the job the first time can deliver significant performance and service benefits. For example, housing providers can now create a ‘digital twin’ for each property they manage.
The digital twin records all relevant information about each property, from stock condition to records of maintenance and asset compliance documents. This provides property, asset and compliance staff with everything they need to inspect, triage and action repairs, planned maintenance and compliance work without having to check numerous and often siloed sources of information.
3. Maximising the value of service intelligence
Access to comprehensive real-time insights into service delivery improves housing providers’ regulatory compliance, and armed with data on long-term performance trends, housing providers can make better and more timely decisions. This drives long-term efficiency while still ensuring that specific issues are fixed without undue delay and to the satisfaction of each tenant.
In an environment where more emphasis is being placed on tenants’ wellbeing, housing providers that embrace technology-led efficiency and innovation will be ideally placed to balance their social obligations with organisational efficiency.
David Webb is the managing director of property and facilities management at Totalmobile.