Delivering on our commitment to getting it right means involving tenants every step of the way, says Nigel Sedman, Executive Director of Homes at ForHousing.
According to Maslow, having a warm, safe place to live and rest is one of our most basic human needs. That’s what delivering on our mission as an organisation ultimately comes down to.
We’re here to provide our tenants with well-maintained, quality affordable homes where they can truly thrive. We know we have work to do and that we don’t always get it right — but we are committed to working together with tenants to continuously improve so we can provide the highest level of customer service possible.
I believe that to achieve that, we need to put our tenants at the heart of all we do and ensure they feel listened to and are treated with respect. We want tenants to be satisfied with the services they receive from us, be proud of their homes, and be able to trust us to deliver on what we say we will do.
Involving tenants has always been a driver for us and the focus of our culture, but the recent introduction of tenant satisfaction measures has encouraged us to build upon how we do this. For example, we listened to feedback from our tenant panel and are now taking action by making further improvements to our repairs and maintenance services.
We’re working with our contractors to provide tenants with effective and customer-focused maintenance services that meet their expectations. We’ve revised timescales for getting jobs done based on tenant feedback. We’re committed to getting things done on time and are communicating timescales clearly to tenants so they know when they can expect work to be done.
We’ve also listened to tenants’ views on scheduling repair appointments. They told us they want to be able to make appointments themselves, so we’re working on developing a way for tenants to do just that by the start of the next financial year.
We have also recently been collaborating on ways in which we can keep people informed about the safety of their homes.
ForHousing’s Community Voice group is just one of the ways in which tenants influence decision making, hold us to account and share feedback. We have three local groups in Salford, Knowsley and Oldham which work alongside ForHousing as partners to talk about opportunities to work together, raise issues, and help solve them.
As the world moves forward at such a pace, we are all getting used to and expecting things more quickly, maybe even instantly. So, when we invited ideas and feedback from customers about accessing safety information about their homes, we weren’t surprised to hear that ease, efficiency, and choice were some of their expectations.
We’re now working with our Community Voice groups to build and test a new ‘safe homes portal’ on our website, to give tenants peace of mind and instant access to compliance information about their homes. We’re on track to have the new portal live by the end of the year.
At the click of a button, tenants will be able to see when their next electrical or gas inspections are due and request copies of safety certificates. All they need is their tenancy number and postcode and they’ll be able to see what checks have been completed and when the next ones are due.
Testing is now underway and tenants will share their experiences of using it — what’s working well and what needs some tweaks. We’ll then use this to make any updates with the ambition to roll the portal out to all customers before the end of the year.
What we’re trying to do is provide more choices to tenants about how they access information, and the portal is just one of the ways we’re doing this. We really believe this will take us a step forward in that openness we always aim to foster. Tenants will feel more empowered and have information at their fingertips.
To ensure we’re continuously improving, increasing our transparency, and achieving the highest level of service possible, we’ll keep listening to our tenants so we can deliver on what matters most to them.