Some housing associations refer to those living in their homes as residents, tenants or customers. I believe that this inconsistency is causing a quandary.
As a customer, we have rights and a certain amount of say as to the running of the company that we choose to utilise. However, a resident/tenant is occupying a house owned by someone else and the onus on ‘serving’ them is lessened.
Most associations are very vocal towards their passion for resident involvement but often this is little more than lip service.
As a long term involved resident, I have found in fact the relationship between association and resident is starting to fail.
As the pressure mounts to end the housing crisis, the existing residents are left adrift to a certain extent. Services that have been vital for many and the support given has been taken away.
The ever increasing move to digital avenues is destroying the relationship between the landlord and tenant as it becomes automated.
I cannot understand why many housing associations are paying obscene wages and glorifying themselves on social media to other companies, while they covertly remove the great involvement and support they previously offered.
When housing associations came into the fore, they were initially seen as money making companies, the general public were very wary.
Over many years this perception had changed and the relationship forged between housing provider and ‘tenant’ had improved many lives.
With the Government cuts to important services, the Associations were picking up more of the shortfall and truly becoming champions in the communities in which they had stock. With the rent decrease, we saw a massive shift in focus.
While the housing crisis is important, I honestly feel this was used as an excuse by many associations to cut services and attempt to make more profit by building.
Cynically could this be because associations feared mergers and are trying to become ‘big boys in the playground’?
The Government is tightening the noose around the vast majority of, not only those on benefits but the general population. Surely now is the time, more than ever, that we should be relying and looking to our Associations, that have become our community leaders, for guidance and support?
Instead residents are being side-lined in favour of political moves to build companies.
If we are truly ‘customers’ then surely we are instrumental in development of policies and structure? Having a close relationship with your customer will save business costs and improve smooth tenancies. When the lines of communication are broken this can have vast consequences for any business.
Ultimately associations need to choose which side of the fence they are going to lay their ground work. Are we residents/tenants or customers? Are they a money making business or a community venture trying to support and help everyone in their communities?
It saddens me that after four years of endless hours of input and assisting my association I now find myself so disillusioned with the direction and attitude they have chosen to take, I can no longer be part of it.
For many people, they choose to live in an association house because they feel there is more security and help on offer. Others have little choice. Whatever the reason they are your business.
The house is a building, a commodity, without people living in those happily then they are worthless. A large percentage of future ‘customers’ are already living in association houses. They are seeing their parents frustrations and anger. It is short sighted to ignore this.
Your ‘client’ (throwing yet another possible term in the mix) base have all the answers associations spend thousands researching.
Residents know what works, what is needed, what is wrong with existing processes.
I am perplexed as to why a resource such as this is not utilised far more. Proficiency, awareness, accomplishments are just a few salient issues that can be assisted greatly by the customer.
More emphasis needs to be put on customer insight and recommendations.
The generic and frankly banal satisfaction surveys, and other methods used, are not going far enough to really delve into the important issues.
As a resident/customer/client/tenant I do not care what star rating is achieved nor do I care what award ceremony my association has attended (although the cost of these seem a ridiculous spend for associations that claim to want to ‘tighten’ their belts).
I care about how the company is treating those living in their homes. I care that they are adhering to policies and structure. I care that my neighbour can have support if needed and that my children are going to have the safety net that generations have previously had. I care that David is not going to be bullied by Goliath.
There is much good work being done by many associations still but I fear this will become the exception and not the rule.
Why are housing associations striving to be the biggest when surely being the best is far more important? Build communities and not just profits please….