HousingIssues and Solutions
RiversideHousing Association faces housing problems due to poor managementstrategies. The main issues affecting the housing association includelow income collection, high level of complaints from tenants, andfear of tenants moving out at night due to the fear of kids hangingaround the households. These problems threaten the economic wellbeingof Riverside Housing Association. There is a high likelihood thattenants who are no longer satisfied with the services of this housingassociation will leave their current houses and seek where qualityand decent housing is ensured. Likewise, tenants value houses wherethey are assured of security day and night. As such, the fear ofgoing out at night may make many tenants to shift to other houseswhere they are assured of security. Thus, there is great need toenhance the management of the riverside housing association toincrease profits and reduce tenancy turnover. It is essential to putin mind that tenants’ satisfaction is what keeps the housingcompany moving. Therefore, it is crucial to address the needs oftenants to meet the goals and objectives of the company. This paperwill focus on addressing the issues of the housing company to improveits profit by ensuring customer satisfaction.
Enhancingtenants’ participation in the management of estates is a chiefaspect of achieving good practice in the management of the housingassociation. Tenant involvement refers to a myriad of activities ofproving tenants with information regarding their housing services anddirect management of the houses. This should be done alongside acontinuum of other activities such as focus groups, consultationexercises, panels, and running of tenants’ associations. Housingassociations that promote tenants participation in decision makingprocesses indicate that this is one of the most profitable areas ofinvestment. This is because it reduces housing management costs byreducing cases of vandalism, rent-arrears, antisocial behavior, andimproving the efficiency and effectiveness of estate services such asmaintenance and repair. Involving tenants in the housing managementis beneficial to the business, the residents, and the well being ofthe entire community (Gruis, Tsenkova & Nieboer 2009, p. 74).
GreatBritain (2010, p. 39) indicate that tenants’ involvement improvesthe services and maintenance of the houses. The housing associationshould view the tenants as customers, who are the most essentialelements of a business. The focus of the housing facility shouldunderstand the needs of the tenants and improving their services.This enhances customer satisfaction hence, reduced tenancy turnover.There are various steps that the housing management should adopt inorder to ensure tenants’ involvement as discussed below.
Themanagement should be clear about why they are trying to involve thetenants. It should be clear on the areas they are planning to involvethe residents. These include improving services or housing stocks,enhancing accountability to users, and build social community andcapital capacity. The management should communicate their rationaleto the tenants, and afterwards monitor and evaluate efforts for theirobjectives. This has specific gains such as high performance,enhanced accountability, and better services. For instance,organisations that involve tenants in refurbishing an estate help inreducing tenancy turnover.
Thehousing association should also offer tenants a menu of opportunitiesin which they will be involved. There are a range of activities thattenants can get involved in the management of their houses. Themanagement should communicate these activities to the residentsaccordingly. In this case, the tenants should complete a cardindicating the areas they are interested in, and what involvementmethods they are interested in. Likewise, the housing managementshould focus on the activities that offer maximum value for both thetenants and the business. This can be achieved through a win-winstrategy.
Themanagement should also ask the tenants for feedback on the newexperience. It should also be involved in regular checks on thequality of the crucial service experiences such as handling of antisocial behavior, tenants’ complaints, repair programmes, and thequality of new built houses.
Theother important factor that the housing management should consider istraining of its staff to facilitate tenant involvement. Good practicein tenant involvement requires suitable staff members who areadequately trained to support and carry out their roles in a complexand stressful environment. Tenant participation staff should be wellequipped to support tenant groups in understanding their roles indecision making processes (Beider 2007, p. 128-135).
Forthe purposes of maintaining a solid foundation in which the tenantscan participate in, the management should establish the minimumstandards which customers should expect. This customer code should bedeveloped in partnership with the tenants and the local authority toenhance its effectiveness. Assessments and the extent to whichminimum standards that should be set needs to be carried outregularly while at the same time identifying the tenants as the majorparticipants.
Ofessence, it is worth noting that the housing organization and thetenants greatly benefit from tenant involvement. Whereas the housingorganization maximizes it profits by reducing the costs ofinvestments, the tenants are able to make informed decisions thatbenefit them. There are several good examples of housing associationsthat have benefited immensely from involving the tenants in decisionmaking processes. This impacts positively on the community and thehousing organisations as well. Although the gains for theorganisation are not oblivious, their impacts in the management arelong run and cannot be ignored. Involving residents in governance isa challenging task for an organisation that is not well prepared forthis involvement. However, there is substantial evidence that tenantparticipation helps in reducing tenancy turnover and thus minimizingthe costs of running a housing organisation. Therefore, it isessential for Riverside Housing association to invest in residentinvolvement to increase the effectiveness of the management byminimizing costs and maximizing profits accordingly.
Strategiesto improve the quality of services
Strategicmanagement of the housing property is essential to improve theeffectiveness of a company. One of the most important aspects ofconsideration in housing associations is the management of rentcollection. Typically, rent is the major source of income for ahousing company. Depending on the size, location, and the type ofhouses, rent allocation varies greatly. The housing associationshould improve its methods of managing rent collection for efficiencyand effectiveness. There should be various means of paying rent thatare convenient for all. Tenants can pay their rent at the officesusing postal orders or cash and debit cards. The company should availa phone number where tenants can pay their rent using debit card. Thenumber should be safe, fast, and automated 24-hours a day to enhancethe convenience of payment. Likewise, tenants should be able to paytheir rent at any PayPoint outlets available in various places suchas supermarkets, news agencies, and other places where PayPoint isprovided. These methods of rent collection make it easy to managerent collection. They are both convenient for the housing associationand the tenants (Schneider & Till 2007, p. 89-107).
Theother essential factor to consider with reference to rent collectionis the management of rent arrears. Usually, this is one of the mostchallenging things in housing associations. Eviction of tenants whohave failed to pay rent is costly both economically and socially. Assuch, it is essential for preventative approaches rather than thereactive strategies. Vulnerable tenants are more likely to accumulatearrears if preventative methods are not put in place. The housingmanagement should provide tenants with a clear guideline on rentpayment including other details such as the deadline for payment.Tenants should sign up a document that maintains that they should paytheir rent on time and failure to do this would mount up to a fine.Further, tenants should pay a deposit of one month upon entering theproperty in case of rent arrears. This ensures that even if a tenantdecides to vacate without a notice in the middle of a month, theamount in the deposit would compensate for this. As such, theassociation should not incur any losses whatsoever.
Evictionshould be the last option in housing management. To avoid suchincidences, it is prudent for the housing management to have a directcontact with the tenants before the allocation of a house. It shouldfacilitate personal contact through telephone contacts and directinterviews. Further, when the tenants are already in the house, it isparamount to continue facilitating personal contacts through phones,homes visits, or E-mail. In case a tenant has rent arrears, thehousing management should seek ways of negotiating for paymentsbefore considering eviction. However, the negotiation for paymentsshould continue alongside a legal action. The management shouldnegotiate payments depending on the financial status of the tenants.This means that the management may decide the tenants to pay theirarrears in lump sum or installments depending on the financialstatus. It should also consider deductions from the benefits ofearnings as a means of payment. However, it is prudent for thehousing association to seek early intervention through offeringsupport, advice, and personal contacts with the tenants and interveneearly to prevent cases of losses and evictions. Measures to preventarrears are effective means of maximizing rental income accordingly.
Thehousing association should have an information technology system thatcollects and stores the information of tenants. The IT system shouldbe tailored to show tenants circumstances such as rent direct,housing benefit, and income status. This makes it easy for themanagement to understand the financial situations of the tenants soas to be sure that they can afford rent. It is typically unwise toallocate tenants expensive houses when their income is very low asthis would result to arrears eventually. Additionally, the IT systemshould be such that it shows the value of arrears, arrears history,and number of weeks in arrears, repayment arrangement, additionalcosts, and court action activity. This helps in greatly in earlyintervention to prevent accumulation of arrears. It is clear thathaving an effective IT system can help in management of rentcollection and arrears to maximum.
Tomanage rent arrears effectively, there is great need of training thestaff. This should focus on preventing rent arrears to avoid moreinconveniency. The management should ensure that the staff isadequately equipped with the capacity and ability to carry out theirremit. It should set up a clearly defined policy and procedures torecover the arrears on time. Similarly, the staff should be trainedto understand the law of housing alongside other stakeholders such ashomeless section and social work. This provides them with a betterunderstanding of the recovery processes and procedures consistentwith other stakeholders. Further, this allows the staff to developthe best practice measures to achieve appropriate performancestandards as mandated by relevant organisations.
Someof the issues affecting the housing association include the antisocial behavior exhibited by tenants. Social landlords have thepowers to deal with tenants who show anti social behavior (Mullins &Murie 2006, p. 138). Although housing agents have no right ininterfering with the lives of the tenants, they have the right tointerfere in case tenants exhibit behaviors categorized as antisocial. The housing association should interfere whenever a tenantbecomes a nuisance to other tenants. Tenants should live their liveswithout interfering with others or making them uncomfortable. Toenhance the effectiveness of the management, the housing associationshould ensure that all tenants behavior do not affect other tenantsnegatively. Some instances of antisocial behavior include stealingfrom other tenants, abusing, and other behaviors that have a negativeeffect on other tenants. Illegal drug abuse should also not beallowed in residential areas thus, the housing management shouldintervene. The management should also be actively involved in solvinginherent disputes between tenants. Failure to solve emerging disputesmay lead to high rates of tenants’ turnover, which is economicallyinefficient.
Thehousing association should embrace a range of dispute resolutionmethods options in case a tenant is involved in antisocial behavior.Although termination is sometimes ensued, it should be the lastoption. Some of the available options of resolving disputes are toseek mediation between the conflicting people. The housing managementshould identify and listen to the cause of the disputes so as to knowthe way forward. If the issue turns out to be less serious, the staffcan reconcile the disputing parties and warn the person who causedthe conflict against doing the same in future. The other option ofdispute resolution is inter transfer, whereby the alleged perpetratoror the victim is moved to another property. This takes place with theconsent of the tenant. Although this method has been greatlycriticized by many, it is cheap, easy, and produces a morepredictable result as compared to applying an eviction order from thecourt.
Inextreme cases of tenant’s nuisance, the housing agent should applyfor an injunction. This is one of the best ways of tackling violence,harassment, vandalism, and other threatening behaviors amongst thetenants. The housing association can apply for an injunction where atenant breaches the tenancy agreements. These are common when atenant uses or threatens to use violence against another personwithin the same premises. An injunction can either be perpetual orinterlocutory. Perpetual injunction is final while interlocutorygives the tenant some time to gauge their actions before one can beevicted. On the latter case, if a person ceases the actions that ledto the application of an injunction, no further action is takenagainst him/her. On the other hand, when a person continues to be anuisance, the housing management should henceforth apply for aperpetual injunction. People who fail to adhere to injunctions may bepunished by a fine or imprisoned. The housing association may applyfor the injunction if a tenant exhibits antisocial behavior, uses thepremises in unlawful manner, and breaches a contract.
Tenantswho exhibit extreme antisocial behavior and have failed to changeafter dispute resolution should be evicted eventually (Flint, 2006,p. 81). Eviction is usually the last option of curbing antisocialbehavior within a property. People liable for evictions must be foundguilty of causing nuisance to another person residing or visiting theproperty. Likewise, people may be evicted if they are engaged inunlawful activities such as immoral and illegal dealings, and when aperson has been arrested for committing an offense or crime. Thehousing association should be on the outlook of antisocial behaviorand apply the necessary measures as soon as possible. Failure toobserve and take action against anti social behavior may lead to ahigh rate of tenants’ turnover.
Itis also necessary to ensure the security of the premises. Tenants arewilling to pay high amounts of rent whenever they are promised ofhigh security within and outside the premises. As such, the housingassociation management should ensure that the security of thepremises is ensued. This can be achieved by employing high securitymeasures such as employing highly qualified security guards in allthe premises. The guards should ensure that they keep watch of allthe premises and the surroundings to make the place secured. Visitorsshould only be allowed in the premises when they are accompanied bytheir hosts to avoid increased cases of complaints by the tenants.Whenever there are cases of insecurity, the housing management shouldbe in the front line to address security issues affecting the tenants(Dodson 2007, p. 142).
Houseallocation should follow certain strategies and policies to enhancethe effectiveness of the housing association management. Wheneverthere is a vacant house, the housing association should put a noticeboard for willing tenants to see and consider application. The peoplewho may have applied earlier in case of a vacant should be givenpriority. Tenants who get a house with the housing associations willbe required to fill in a form, which states all the terms andconditions for living within the premises. The document shouldcontain the tenant’s personal details and the amount of money theyare supposed to pay each month for the rent (Gruis & Nieboer2004, p. 57).
Tenantswho wish to be transferred to another property managed by the samehousing corporation should write a letter to the management to seektransfer. In the letter, the tenant should state the reason forinter-transfer. On the other hand, the management should considerwhether to transfer the tenant or not depending on various factors.The company should review the tenant’s payment records, any recordof antisocial behavior, the demand for the respective units, and anyother special considerations. If the tenant shows a clean record,he/she should be considered for the application. A person may bedenied tenancy if they fail to sign the documents or fail to providesome essential information required by the management. Likewise, ifthe applicants produce unsatisfactory living conditions to cater forthe housing needs. Persons renting the property should be able to payfull amounts including the necessary deposits before entering thehouses. Failure to pay the full amount would amount to a personlosing eligibility for tenancy with the association (Bien &Griswold 2011, p. 84).
Thehousing association should provide decent homes to its tenants toincrease its effectiveness and management (Diacon, Pattison, Vine &Building and Social Housing Foundation (Great Britain) 2009, p. 42).As such, the housing association management should be responsible forrepairing the houses when need be. When a tenant vacates a house, themanagement of the association should check for areas that requirerepair before the next tenant comes in. Even when a tenant is alreadyin the house, the housing association should be responsible for mostrepairs, although the tenant should also be responsible for someminor repairs. They should be informed about the rules for reportingrepairs and maintenance requirements.
Theassociation should outsource the repair and maintenance services.This means that the housing association need not hire permanentworkers for repair and maintenance services. Outsourcing is muchcheaper as the housing association only pays for the servicesrendered when necessary. It is essential, as such, to hire the mostexperienced experts to deliver the maintenance services to ensuretenants’ satisfaction. Some of the most common maintenancerequirements by the housing association include window replacements,bathroom repairs, heating systems, new door entry systems, and hardwire smoke detectors. All these should be in perfect condition beforea tenant can finally move in. Likewise, tenants have the rights toreport to the housing management in case of serious damages in thecourse of their stay. In such cases, the management should recorddown all the complaints and conduct a visit to determine the cost ofmaintenance, and whether the damage was caused by a tenant’snegligence (Edwards & Ellison 2004, p. 127).
Provisionof a decent home will also require the housing association toestablish means of communication in case tenants need repairs. Insuch a case, the management should install an IT system to record allthe complaints of the customers. The tenants should be able to reachthe housing association by just using their mobile phones or visitingthe housing association offices. It is paramount to respond to theclaims as soon as possible. In addition, the housing associationshould introduce a bi- annual repair inspection to the apartments asa means of improving repair and enhancing maintenance services (Pinto2005, p. 83).
Thefollowing is the SMART plan action of improving the services of thehousing association:
Theoverall SMART goal is to improve rental collection, tighten up thesecurity, and improve the repairs and maintenance services. This canbe achieved by ensuring that the employees are well trained to dealwith all tenants and their complaints. This includes helping them inparticipating in decision making. Further, the housing associationshould tighten the security and improve the services
Thespecific problems in question include low collection of income andregular complaints by the tenants as a result of poor services. Theseproblems should be presented clearly to the housing management toensure that they understand every detail surrounding the issue. Oncethe management is clear about the issues, employees will be assignedtheir duties. All employees will undergo a training to ensure thatthey understand what is required of them. Those that deal withcustomers directly should be trained how to handle individualcomplaints brought forth by the tenants. Employees should also betrained to follow up rental income and prevent arrears as soon aspossible. They should know how to prevent cases of arrears and how tohandle individual cases of arrears. They should constantly follow upthe tenants immediately the deadline for rent collection is due.Eviction should be the last resort thus, the management of thehousing association should train employees to find alternative meansof resolving rent arrear cases with the tenants (Goodwin, Rusdorf &McNichol 2004, p. 36-52).
Likewise,the management should train the employees on how to encourage theresidents in participating in decision making processes. They shouldbe equipped with good communication skills that will help the tenantsto participate in decision making. As such, the management shouldtrain employees on good communication skills and how to deal with alltenants.
Further,the relevant employees should conduct a bi-annually inspection of thehouse to ensure that they are in good condition. The houses that willrequire repair and maintenance services will henceforth be repairedimmediately to ensure that the all the apartments are neat anddecent. The Company will outsource maintenance and repair serviceprovided by experts in this field when need be. Whenever customerscomplain of major repair problems, it is the duty of the company torespond to these claims as soon as possible to enhance customersatisfaction.
Additionally,the management is expected to change the security system inherent andemploy more tight security measures within the property. A newsecurity company provider will be consulted that will assure maximumsecurity within the premises and the surrounding areas. All theseplans should be implemented immediately for efficiency andeffectiveness of the management. The tenants should be informed ofthe new changes so they would be prepared.
Thehousing association will strive to improve all its services toenhance tenant satisfaction and hence, reduce cases of tenants’turnover. The overall improvement will not ensure that the companyprovides decent homes to its customer’s, but also increase incomefrom rent collection. The association must also ensure that itfollows the guidelines put in place by the local and national laws ofhousing (Jacobs, Kemeny & Manzi 2004, p. 105).
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