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Opinion: The Big Tenant Survey - why did social landlords do so badly?

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Opinion: The Big Tenant Survey - why did social landlords do so badly?

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing

Opinion: The Big Tenant Survey - why did social landlords do so badly? Opinion: The Big Tenant Survey - why did social landlords do so badly?

Euan Ramsay, housing consultant, takes an in-depth look at the Big Tenant Survey results to find out why social landlords fared so badly.

The Big Tenant Survey 2014, for which the results have just been released by the software house Housing Partners, was completed by 61,000 tenants, who make up 7% of the 850,000 social housing tenants registered on the HomeSwapper mutual exchange platform.

The survey found that only 44% of respondents were satisfied with their landlord – compared to 85% satisfaction amongst general needs tenants in the 2012/13 STAR survey reported by HouseMark. The Big Tenant survey also found that only 32% of tenants were satisfied that their landlord listens to and acts on their views – the equivalent STAR score for general needs tenants in 2012/13 was more than double, at 69%.

Nearly four out of five respondents (79%) in the Big Tenant Survey sample were aged under 55 years, and 27% were aged under 35 years, with only 6% aged 65 years or more. In this, the Big Tenant Survey sample differs markedly from the usual profile of social housing tenants, where households containing those aged 60 or more typically make up around a third of the population housed by social landlords.

The lower satisfaction levels found in the Big Tenant Survey compared to the average STAR scores reflect the different age profiles in particular – the HouseMark analysis of the STAR survey findings for 2012/13 found that ‘the most notable predictive variable for satisfaction is age: satisfaction does indeed increase with age’.

But do the Big Tenant Survey scores represent what the next generation of tenants is thinking, and can we assume that this group will carry their lower levels of satisfaction with them as they become today’s older generation of tenants?

Possibly, but we need to add a couple of qualifiers about the results from the Big Tenant Survey. First, the sample of 61,000 tenants who took part contains only tenants who are keen to move home, and who might be considered to be the least happy with their current housing situation, including their landlord. Second, the survey was completed online, thus excluding those who are not IT literate.

What is this younger segment of the tenant population telling us, and are their attitudes and views typical? Younger tenants are generally the most demanding, with aspirations for modern kitchens and bathrooms, and with a different concept of what defines customer service – the social housing sector is not renowned for the speed of response, unlike many other service providers such as Vodafone, for whom a 24 hour response to queries is common.

While the Big Survey has focused on a particular and atypical segment of the tenants in social housing, there are some useful lessons to be learned perhaps, that landlords will need to get used to customers who tend to tell it like it is and who can no longer be relied on to show the loyalty and gratitude that typifies the current older generation of tenants. Interesting times ahead.

euan@shoreconsult.co.uk

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