SOCIAL HOUSING MAINTENANCE: INVOLVING TENANTS USING TECHNOLOGY

  16 December, 2019      Industry Insights
SOCIAL HOUSING MAINTENANCE: INVOLVING TENANTS USING TECHNOLOGY

Households living in private rented properties have more than doubled since 2001 and analysis from PwC UK suggests that by 2025 there will be more people privately renting in the UK than owning property.

The growing agenda requires housing associations to ramp up the efforts to engage with, and involve tenants in decisions through the use of technology.

It is set to ensure that they will have access to information about any changes that will occur in the building they live in and must be notified when fire prevention systems are checked, as well as gas, electric and water structures.

Tenants will be consulted and offered choice wherever possible.

They must also be able to make comments or observations about the building, and report these efficiently.

The challenge of involving tenants

Digitalisation in the private renting sector means that tenants are beginning to expect more from social housing providers, but 57% of the landlords that Halton Housing surveyed last year said that less than half of their current customer transactions involve digital technology.

As a result, Britannic technologies found that nearly 80% of customers feel that there is a lack of omnichannel support from their provider, and 81% had not had a positive customer experience at all.

There are some improvements to be made and it is time to tackle this challenge head-on.

The role of technology in tenant engagement

Social housing maintenance contracts are one of our primary sectors of operation at Novus.

Effective customer communication and support is promised from the outset by our dedicated Customer Care Team, which will engage with your tenants to identify and accommodate their needs.

We are looking to further improve and digitalise our methods of communication by implementing a variety of new media and technologies.

73% of landlords claim that “meeting customer needs” is their biggest driver to use modern technology in communications, while 79% agree that increasing efficiency through better use of resources is theirs.

Technology could be about to change the way landlords manage their properties and communicate with tenants, and if they implement new technologies they could see an increase in satisfaction and retention rates.

Social housing companies should consider how they will adapt to the changes that modern technology has enabled, as falling behind is likely to cause complications in the future and impact the success of the business.

Putting technology into practice with tenants

Day-to-day communications can be vastly simplified and improved by implementing technology. Whether that is through a text to confirm an appointment or the ability to communicate with landlords via an online chat feature.

Richard Jacques, letting director at Purplebricks, finds that 60% of activity happens when traditional estate agents are closed, so the company has given landlords and tenants access to a secure portal which enables them to liaise with each other 24/7.

There are also opportunities to use artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) when it comes to social housing maintenance.

Tenants can report repairs online using AI diagnostic tools, or see proposed changes to communal areas for themselves using AR or VR. Ana Nekhamkin, Managing Director at Inhabit, explains how technology provides the opportunity to enhance the resident experience and create operating efficiencies for landlords.

One way of deciding how to best utilise technology in your housing association is to consider a current problem or disruption and look for a technology solution to assist you.

Why should I consider this?

Increasing the use of digital technology could be a great way to cut costs, drive efficiencies and above all, improve services for tenants.

There are also benefits when it comes to safety and the environment, and the quality of products is likely to improve with the greater precision and reliability that technology offers.

Alongside all of this, implementing technology is likely to positively impact the health and wellbeing of your tenants.

Simplifying processes and offering more choice will reduce the stresses that typically come hand-in-hand with some of the more traditional methods of correspondence.

Balancing act

For almost half of social housing landlords, the key driver to use modern technology is to reduce overall cost.

However, some have been slow to adopt technologies that do not directly benefit them in the short-term, despite certain technologies increasing efficiencies for both landlords and tenants.

An efficient and timely customer experience has become a baseline expectation. In fact, 42% of consumers cited a quick resolution as the most important element within customer service. 

Balancing tenant demand and leaseholder restrictions can be a challenge, but customer satisfaction is not the place to cut corners. Technologies that have been developed and applied in other fields are low risk, and could be a great place to start.

Ensure you are getting it right by conducting tenant consultations.

This can help you to develop an understanding of how they currently use digital technology and how they would like to communicate with their landlord.

Repeat consultations can also give tenants the opportunity to share feedback, and tell you how satisfied they are.

The ongoing process of tenant involvement

Changes will not be implemented overnight, but the sooner they do, the faster housing associations will start to see results. Here is how Novus can help with your social housing refurbishment.

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