Housing Issue and Housing Solution
Who the report is directed for Decision/information
The aim of this report is to assist the Riverslake Housing Association to improve the services and quality of life of the occupants residing at the estate managed by the Riverslake Housing Association. The report aims to provide recommendations on the strategy that the Riverslake could employ which include the strategy:
To effectively repair estate,
To deal with anti-social behavior of kids hanging around in the night making the residents to be scared of going out in the night.
To provide recommendation for the effective and efficient timely collection of house rents.
Summary and general Recommendations
Housing issues and the solutions are key issues facing community and residents. The focus of this report is to recommend practical solutions that will assist Riverslake Housing Association to identify good practice in estate management in dealing with the housing issues such as disrepair and anti-social behavior. This report provides the following recommendations to improve quality of life of residents.
First, the report recommends that the Riverslake Housing Association should organize a football training or football competition for the kids to discourage them from hanging around the estate in the night.
Moreover, the paper recommends that the Riverslake Housing should carry out a comprehensive inspection of the house to identify necessary places in the house that require repair and maintenance. The organization should draw up the cost of repair in collaboration of the selected contractors, and Riverslake Housing could raise fund of the repair from their financial resources or approach the tenants and advise them to pay one or two house in rent in advance.
The report recommends that the Riverslake Housing should introduce a reward scheme for tenants who pay their house rent on time. The strategy will encourage other tenants to pay their house rent on time.
It is generally agreed that good quality housing is very critical to people well-being, apart from improving health and safety on the occupants, a desirable housing stock assists an individual to achieve a complete state of mental, social, and physical well-being. Riverslake Housing Association manages a number of estates at the Riverslake region. In the UK, the Housing Associations are private non-profit organizations that provide low-cost social housing for people in need of low cost home. (CIEH, 2008).Much of the estate managed by the Housing Associations are designed for specialized people such as young people, formerly homeless, low income earners, people misusing illegal drugs or alcohol. However, the Riverslake Housing Association manages estates designed for low income people in the United Kingdom. (Chartered Institute of Housing. 2009). With the nature of housing managed by the Riverslake Housing Association, the Riverslake Housing is facing challenges to manage the estates effectively which leads to series of complaints from the residents such as lack of housing repair and anti-social behavior around the estate. (Communities and Local Government. 2009). High quality housing depends on the number of factors such as security of the house, and housing condition. However, many of the housing managed by the Riverslake Housing do not meet the quality housing standards in the UK. (CIEH, 2008).
Riverslake Housing Estate Problem
The key issue is that there is high level of complains among the housing occupants at the Riverslake Housing particularly with reference to the quality of housing. Moreover, there is no security at the place; tenants are particularly scare to move out at night because of kids hanging around all the time. Decent home is generally linked to crime reduction; improve employment opportunities, community development and attainment of educational achievement.
One of the solutions to the problem is to involve the residents in the decision making in order to improve the quality of life of the occupants in the estates. Resident participation is the strategy of allowing residents to take part in the decision-making on the housing conditions, housing policies, and housing related services. The strategy is two-way process, which involves sharing of information, idea and power to improve the standard of the housing conditions. One of the benefits of involving the residents in the decision making is to identify all the problems that residents are having in the past and present. Identification of the problems will assist the Riverslake Housing Association to draw out specific solutions to the problems.
Moreover, involvement of tenant in the decision-making will make some of the tenants to deliver professional inputs to arrive at the solutions to the problems. For example, some of the tenants may be professionals in different fields and some may have years of experience in social study and estate management. Their involvements in the decision-making will assist the Riverslake Housing management to arrive at quick solutions to the problems since some of the tenants will recommend professional solutions to the problems.
Moreover, some of the tenants are parents and understand kid s’ anti-social behaviors and the strategies to manage these behaviors. Involving residents in decision-making will reduce kid’s anti-social behavior, which will enhance safety of the estate residents and improve the housing standards.
Pawson, Bright, Engberg, et al. (2012) point out that resident involvement in decision making is an official important policy since the 1980s. The resident involvement in the decision-making will assist in passing the right information to the estate management. The strategy will assist in building trust and openness. Moreover, the Riverslake Housing management will be able to tailor their communication in a friendly way to the residents. For example, issues such housing repairs, housing safety and management of kid’s anti-social behavior will be dealt with in a friendly manner.
Strategy to Improve the Quality of Estate Services
Effective estate and tenancy management is very essential to deliver high quality services to the residents of Riverslake Housing estate. Estate and tenancy management is not just only by looking after the physical environment and building, however, estate and tenancy management is also to ensure effective tenancy management by providing and arranging support, advice, and assistance for the residents in order to enhance quality of the housing estates through improving existing housing services. The strategy to manage the key estate issues that Riverslake Housing is facing is to identify the priorities that will improve the quality of life of the residents. Identification of the key issues will assist the Riverslake Housing Association to create a sustainable community that will assist in enhancing strategic improvement plan. The Riverslake Housing estate should use different strategies to improve the estate and quality of housing services. Some of the strategies are discussed below:
One of the effective strategies to improve the estate is to carry out the estate inspection to identify the key issues and complains. The strategy will assist the Housing Association to implement a comprehensive housing repairs tailored to the needs of the residents. (Basildon Council, 2012). Stewart, (2011) argues that fostering social interaction between customer and estate providers is one of the strategies to improve quality of estate services. Engaging constant social relations with residents will assist the Riverslake Housing Association to identify special concern of the residents and the strategy will assist Housing Association to deliver services tailored to the needs of the residents. (Audit Commission., 2002). Although, the tenants have lodged several complains about low quality of the estates and lack of security around the estate, however, the Housing Association still need to carry out the housing comprehensive inspection to understand all the complain of the tenants. Having listed all the complains from the residents, the next course of action is that Riverslake Housing Association should draft a scale of preference for all complains and deal with the most important housing issues bordering the residents. The Housing Association should draw up a financial planning to deal with complains, and the Housing Association should compare their total financial resources with their action plan.
The Riverslake Housing Association should look for a contractor who will assist the organization to carry out the housing repair. The contractor should be selected based on the past performances and recommendations. In collaboration with the contractor, the organization should draw up the cost of completing the housing repair, which should include the cost of housing materials and manpower. The Riverslake Housing Association should use the available financial resources to repair the necessary place that their financial resources could cover. Moreover, the Riverslake Housing Association could approach the tenants to pay one month or two months of rents in advance in order to cover the cost of repair and maintenance.
Forming Estate and Tenancy Management Team
The management of Riverslake Housing estate should also form an estate and tenancy management team to be in charge of all the tenancy issues. The estate management team will undertake the review of the house and identify the issues that should be addressed by the housing estate. The team should also assist in identifying the registered occupants and the strategy will assist in identifying the housing fraud. Typically, the housing frauds should be eliminated to ensure that only registered occupants are occupying the housing. The strategy will allow the Riverslake Housing estate to spend their financial resources only on the qualified tenants. The team will also assist in identifying areas in the estate that need immediate improvement. Using the strategy, the team will be in charge of monitoring and carrying the housing issues and housing repairs. The strategy will also assist in providing immediate responses to the housing issues in the estate.
To deliver effective housing repairs and maintenance, the Riverslake Housing Association should involve their staff at different level in order to carry out the operations. Moreover, the Riverslake Housing should involve residents when carrying out the housing repairs. Audit Commission. (2005) argues that it is important to involve residents when carrying out the housing repair and maintenance. The residents should provide important inputs to enhance strategic direction for the housing repair and maintenance in order to ensure that their aspirations and needs are carried out effectively. Technically, the Housing Association should involve the tenants in drawing up programs to manage the repair and maintenance of the estate. Generally, the Housing Association should involve the residents at low level such as contractor selection, and setting standard.
The Riverslake Housing Association could implement a similar strategy adopted by the Sheffield Homes. The Sheffield Homes employs a strategy to work closely with Council and families to improve the quality of housing service. Typically, the Sheffield Homes holds regular meeting with residents as well as visiting the tenants individually to access the housing needs and other needs within the housing environment. The organization paid attention to carpeting, packing and unpacking. The Sheffield Homes received 100% satisfactory response from the tenants.
Moreover, Wolverhampton Homes identified the needs of the tenants through tenant consultation. After the consultation, the Wolverhampton Homes was able to identify that the important priority for tenants was fencing replacement. Since the Wolverhampton Homes do not have large financial resources to implement the project, the tenants agreed that that they would pay a week rent in advance to cover the costs and the organization include this in the Wolverhampton Homes revised tenancy agreement.
To carry out the maintenance of the estate, the Riverslake Housing should increase proportion of the revenue collected to offer better value for the estate maintenance. One of the reasons of constant complain is that
“many housing authorities are still not adopting a sufficiently planned approach: two thirds of inspected authorities are spending too low a proportion of their revenue repair budget on planned works.” (Audit Commission. 2005 p 24)
Riverslake Housing should set out the budget for the annual repair and maintenance. Riverslake Housing should implement similar strategy of Kirklees that adopts a policy to increase the maintenance housing expenses by 70%. Using this strategy, the Riverslake will have sufficient fund to carry out the housing maintenance annually and the strategy will minimize complain from the tenants. The Riverslake Housing should employ a strategy to reduce the costs of estate repair and maintenance by developing a program to allow contractors to work in large package to ensure that the contractors secure the housing materials in a competitive price and to enjoy price reduction cost of materials when buying using economic of scale strategy.
Improvements in Rent Collection
Rent income is very important for the Riverslake Housing Association because it is used to meet the costs of Riverslake Association commitments. It is important that the Riverslake Housing Association adopt appropriate policy to employ efficient and effective rent collection. Part of the policy and procedure is to ensure that all tenants pay their rents on time and when due. The Riverslake Housing Association should employ a simple Information Technology program to maintain a comprehensive database of estates’ record. The database should contain all the names of the tenants, the apartment number and the amount they are to pay monthly. Using this strategy, Riverslake Housing Association will be able to quickly locate which apartment is occupied, and the apartment not occupied. The Riverslake will able to locate the tenants owing the house rent and the tenants paying their house rents on time. Moreover, this strategy will assist the organization to identify the housing fraud and locate which apartment is being occupied illegally.
Another strategy to employ for the rent collection is to set out a comprehensive policy and take preventive measure in the rent collection. Riverslake Housing should make all tenants to be aware of their responsibilities from the onset. The Association should ensure that all tenants sign the tenancy procedures form that included the following:
The form should include appropriate method of collecting payment from the tenants. If tenants are to pay with their credit cards, they should put the detail information of their credit card in the form. If the tenants decide to be paid by withdrawing the rent from the back account, they should put their bank account number in the form. The procedure will assist in quick collection of the house rent. Other methods that should be used to collect the house rents should include cash, Direct Debit, and cheque. All the information should be stored in the database. Moreover, the Riverslake Housing should provide housing benefits for people paying their house rent on time. For example, Riverslake Housing can provide a month free house rent for tenants paying their house rents for on time for 12 months. Similarly, the organization could reduce 10% of the rents of tenants paying their rents at from first 5 days of the month. The strategy will induce other tenants to pay their house rents on time because they have realized that they will derive benefits by paying their house rents on time.
The Irwell Valley uses similar strategy to collect the rents from the occupants. The organization uses ‘Gold Service’ reward scheme to encourage tenants to pay their rent on time.
The Irwell Valley provides “Â£1 per week Bonus Bonds, accepted at 20,000 retail outlets and negotiated discounts with local or national businesses. Gold Service members also access improved housing services, such as a more responsive repairs service. Eligibility for membership is based upon a rent account being clear for six weeks, or where there are arrears, an agreement to pay the arrears being made and maintained for 12 weeks.” (The Audit Commission, 2003 p 52).
Part of the eligibility of reward scheme is that the tenant should not breach the tenancy and involve in the anti-social behavior. “The aim is to bring about a change in behavior and ensure that agreements are made and adhered to.” (The Audit Commission, 2003, p 52). With the introduction of Gold services rewards, the Irwell Valley increases the number of tenants belonging to the reward scheme to 80%.
Strategy to Manage ASB (Anti-Social Behavior)
Managing ASB is very critical to deliver a high quality and customer focused estate management service. An effective ASB management is to protect the tenants from harm from the kids handing around in the night. The Riverslake Housing Association should form the Anti-social Behavior team to manage the anti-social behavior implemented by the kids. Part of the tenants’ complain is that they are scare to go out in the night because of some group of kids are hanging around the estates. Thus, the anti-social behavior team will be committed to take a positive action against ASB such as hanging around the estate in the night to scare the tenants. (Tenant Services Authority. 2010). The ASB team should be committed to focus on the swift action in order to protect the tenant. The team should take a timely approach to resolve the problem. In collaboration with the tenants, the ASB team should develop comprehensive procedures and policies to manage Anti-social Behavior cases. The team should develop a timely and appropriate action to address the anti-social behavior. Cullen. et al. (2012) argues that a team can respond quickly to the local needs than individual. Thus, ASB team should be capable of respond quickly to deal with complain from the residents.
To carry out their work effectively, the Riverslake Housing Association should provide short training for the ASB team in order to carry out their tasks actively and efficiently. Another method to stop the kids hanging around the estate is to use a preventive and appropriate tool to stop the behavior. For example, the Riverslake Housing Association could organize class coaching for the youth between 12 and 17 to keep them busy during the night. Moreover, the Housing Association should organize football training or football competition for the kids during the day. The strategy will keep them busy during the day, and the activity in the day will take much of their energy.
Another strategy is to refer the matter to the YOS (Youth Offending and Services) to take appropriate action about the kids hanging around the estate. The role of YOS is to work with young people and assist them to understand consequence of their behaviors. Many young people do not know the consequence of their behaviors because of their ages. Many of them do not understand the impact of their behavior to others. The YOS’s responsibility is to establish the needs of young people by providing them necessary education, recreation, and well-being. One of the unique services of the YOS is to prevent young people and children from causing harm to other person. Moreover, the YOS assists young people to become law abiding individuals in the community. Thus, the Riverslake Housing Association can call for the assistance of YOS to pay a visit to the estate and see kids hanging around in the night preventing the occupant to move out in the night. Using this strategy, the YOS will take appropriate action to stop the kids hanging around the estates in the night.
The Riverslake Housing Association could implement a similar strategy that Beechdale Community Housing employ to address the problems that the tenants face. For example, Beechdale Community Housing has been able to identify serious tenant problems by conducting interview with tenants, which assist them to identify the unmet issues. By conducting interview with tenants, the Beechdale Community Housing is able to identify and find solutions to issues causing distress, and disturbances to the tenants. The solutions that Beechdale Community Housing employs to address the problem is to develop relationships with local agencies for the interventions. In collaboration with the local agencies, the Beechdale Community Housing uses the diversionary scheme and coaching scheme to address the problems.
Timed Plan to improve Services and the Quality of Life
This section discusses the time plan for the Riverslake Housing Association project. The project will include the following:
House repair and maintenance.
Eliminating or reducing the antisocial behaviors and Timely collection of house rent
SMART TARGET for the Housing Repair
The Riverslake Housing Association should implement a comprehensive housing repair within 6 months in collaboration with a contractor. The housing repair should start from August 1, 2014 and end by December 28, 2014. The time-plan for the housing repair will be as follows:
SMART TARGET for the Housing Repair
August 1, 2014- August 30, 2014
A comprehensive housing inspection is to identify the area in the estates that needs repairs. The Riverslake Housing will list the entire housing repair based on their priority and their importance to residents.
September 1, 2014 – September 30, 2014
The Riverslake Housing should select a contractor who will carry out the housing repairs. The selection of the contractor should be based on the past performances and appropriate recommendations.
October 1, 2014 – October 15, 2014
In consultation with the contractor, the Riverslake Housing should draw up the costs of materials and manpower that will used to complete the project. The Riverslake Housing should only carry out top priorities housing repairs which their funds could complete.
October 16, 2014- December 15, 2014
The Riverslake Housing should carry out the comprehensive housing repair during this period. It is critical that for the Riverslake Housing to complete the project during these period to avoid escalation of cost of materials. It is very important for the Riverslake Housing to increase the project costs by 10% in case of unforeseen circumstance of sudden increase in the price of t materials. In case of the increase in the cost of materials, the 10% put aside will cover the costs. During the project life cycle, it is important that for the Riverscale to maintain constant communication with the contractor to ensure that the project is carried out based on the project’s requirements.
SMART TARGET to Manage ASB (Anti-Social Behavior )
In collaboration with the Youth Offending and Services, the Riverslake Housing should be able to reduce the antisocial behavior around the estate within three months.
SMART TARGET to Manage ASB (Anti-Social Behavior
August 1, 2014- August 30, 2014
Anti-social Behavior team formed by the Riverslake Housing should approach the youth hanging around the estates encourage them to take part in the football training or competition. One of the reasons making kids carrying out the ASB behavior is that they do not have anything doing in the day. Anti-social Behavior team should organize football competition and encourage the kids to participate.
September 1, 2014 – September 30, 2014
Anti-social Behavior team should organize coaching training for the kids. Encouraging them to participate in the coaching in the day will desist from the anti-social behavior.
August 1, 2014-October 30, 2014
During the three-month period, the Youth Offending and Services should pay a visit to the estate two or three times in a week to desist the youth from hanging around the estate in the night.
SMART TARGET for the timely collection of house rent should be achievable within 3 months.
SMART TARGET for Timely collection of House Rent
August 1, 2014- August 30, 2014
The Riverslake Housing should seek for the service of IT expert who will assist them to develop a simple database they will use in keeping record of housing rents.
September 1, 2014 – September 30, 2014
Input all the housing record in the database. The strategy will assist them for easy collection of the house rents because all the information of the occupants is in the database. The strategy will assist in easy tracking of individual clients.
August 1, 2014-October 30, 2014
The Riverslake Housing should introduce the reward plan for tenants who pay their house rent on time. The organization can introduce 5% or 10% reduction for tenants who pay their house rents within between 1st and 5th of the month.
List of References
Audit Commission. (2002). Learning from inspection: repairs and maintenance. London: Audit Commission.
The Audit Commission (2003). Housing Association Rent Income. Audit Commission, Housing Corporation.
Audit Commission. (2005). Housing: improving service through resident participation. London: Audit Commission.
Basildon Council. (2012). Draft copy for Public Consultation July- August 2012, Tenancy and Estate Management Strategy 2012 — 2015. Basildon Council Publication.
Chartered Institute of Housing.( 2009). Equality, Diversity and Good Relations in Housing. Chartered Institute of Housing.
Communities and Local Government. (2009). Empowering Communities to Influence Local Decision Making: Evidence-based lessons for Policy Makers and Practitioners. CLG Publications.
Cullen, P. & Devereaux, A. Antcliff, R. et al.(2012).Effective ASB Case Management Principles. Home Office.
CIEH (2008).Good Housing Leads To Good Health A toolkit for environmental health practitioners. Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), Chadwick.
Pawson, H. Bright, J. Engberg, L.et al. (2012). Resident involvement in social housing in the UK and Europe.Heriot Watt University, UK.
Stewart, D.M. (2011). Designing Robust Service Encounters. Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, Michigan State University.
Tenant Services Authority. (2010). Taking action against anti-social behavior.