Beyond the basics - why tenants should expect more than just a safe home
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Beyond the basics: Why tenants should expect more than just a safe home

Picture this: you’re scrolling through your phone, deciding whether to switch your mobile provider based on countless reviews and ratings online. 

The freedom to choose products and services based on others’ experiences is something we take for granted in many aspects of our lives, from where we eat to who provides our internet. Yet, when it comes to social housing, tenants don’t have a choice. They are stuck with a landlord – good or bad – simply because it is their local provider.

Would you endure a subpar landlord if you had the option to switch? I suspect the answer is a resounding no. Yet, this is the predicament faced by social housing tenants across the UK.

Switch if we could

Our recent Beyond Four Walls survey of more than 500 tenants, revealed a desire for change. Nearly 40% of respondents, especially those aged 18 to 54, expressed a willingness to switch housing providers if only they had the chance.

But… there was also a contradiction in what tenants said.  

At the same time, an average of 71% rated their current landlord positively. It’s a curious situation, suggesting that while tenants are generally satisfied, they’re also craving more – better homes and services.

True satisfaction or low expectations?

This apparent satisfaction may reflect the low expectations tenants have come to accept. Why? 

Because our survey also found that their satisfaction was based on their fundamental needs: having a safe home to live in. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s a baseline that, while important, sets the bar surprisingly low, especially when compared to the expectations we have from other service providers in our lives.

Of course, the reality is that tenants don’t have the freedom to choose their landlords, unlike other service providers they use. And the housing crisis means it is highly unlikely that there will ever be a system to allow switching landlords at will.

But by saying they want to switch; tenants are saying something is wrong with the service they currently receive. And landlords should want to do everything in their power to change their tenants’ perceptions if this is their current viewpoint.

So why is choice so important?

Just take a look outside of the housing sector. Commercial businesses can’t guarantee that they will keep their customers. They have to fight to keep them, day in, day out. And, if they lose a customer, they have to fight to win them back. 

Where’s the competition?

The nature of social housing means competition for custom doesn’t really exist. Just try finding a short housing waiting list. You won’t. A ready flow of customers is always guaranteed.

Of course, having a guaranteed line of customers doesn’t mean that the sector is not under pressure. Indeed, it is set to face another shake-up with the new Consumer Standards being introduced this Spring.

The new standards are aimed at encouraging improvement across the board by fostering a competitive environment where landlords are motivated to raise their standards, engage more effectively with their tenants and ensure transparency in their operations.

Although tenants might not choose their landlords, they undeniably should be able to influence the quality of their service and housing. And the introduction of the new Consumer Standards represents a significant shift towards quality and tenant empowerment. So landlords should now be motivated more than ever to elevate their service standards and foster a competitive environment that benefits tenants.

At Oneserve, we offer solutions that help to bridge the communication gap between tenants and landlords. By facilitating effective feedback mechanisms, we enable tenants to voice their needs and preferences directly. This gives them an active role in driving up housing standards.

It’s good to see that we’re stepping into a future where quality and tenant influence within social housing go hand in hand. This can only be a good thing for social Housing within the UK.

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