The report that sets the outlook for the performance of social housing providers, Housemark’s Pulse, has just reported that complaints in England were 74% higher in December 2022 than in the same month in 2021.
The surge has been put down to the reform and improvement in English Landlords’ identification and recording mechanisms. With the Housing Ombudsman handling code changes published in October 2022, there was an expectation tenant would feel encouraged to raise issues.
Encouraging tenants to complain through the reform in mechanisms will hope to highlight the true scale of poor housing standards across the sector and prove a tipping point for the sector to react to and reduce the dissatisfaction levels.
Inner-City Performance Much Worse Than Rural Areas
Adding to this, the report also showed that customer satisfaction levels dropped by seven percentage points from January to December 2022, with many in the west satisfaction largely living in the inner-city, densely populated housing stock.
Shockingly, several landlords are benign awarded satisfaction levels below 605, with some slipping further down to 40% satisfaction.
Cold weather conditions were also a consideration that the report acknowledged, with the damage from the ‘freeze and thaw’ weather from December 2022, causing considerable damage to housing stock across the country.
Landlords’ Emergency Repairs Jumped 40% over ‘Freeze and Thaw’ Period
This was evidenced as it was revealed that some landlords’ emergency repair volumes increased by more than 40% during this period. Overall, emergency repairs rose 13% from November 2021 and 23% compared with December 2021.
In a bid to improve housing associations ranking within complain leaderboards, it was separately reported that larger associations have been using transactional tenant surveys to yield more positive results rather than improving services.
This is a widespread tactic, deployed by more than 60% of associations with housing stock above 1000 and providing an average of 15 percentage points more positive results than perception surveys over the last three years.
It is clear that the industry needs to address the issues the tenants are facing, from damp and mould cost-of-living and repair issues. Changes to legislation have enabled landlords to be exposed to such complaints, but more is needed to encourage landlords to improve their housing stock. Whether this comes to fruition will be made clear in next years results.