What makes a landlord great?
The UK Housing Awards recognise and reward the very best in the UK housing sector. This year’s event will be taking place in May, bringing together more than 1,200 housing professionals. Over the next few months, organisations and individuals shortlisted for a UK Housing Award are giving an insight into their work and why they have been nominated. In this blog, Dave Richmond, assistant director of neighbourhoods and housing from Hull City Council talks about what makes a good landlord and what they’re doing in Hull to be the best they can be.
Pride might come before a fall, but it is something we talk a lot about in Hull. We also spend a lot of time talking amongst ourselves and with our tenants about ‘what does good look like?’ and ‘how do we make our services the best they can be?’.
No surprise, most tenants say they want a quality home suitable for their family, in a peaceful neighbourhood and at a reasonable price. If we judge greatness in terms of our tenant’s views (and of course, we should), delivering greatness focusses on the core services – repairs and maintenance, tenancy and estate management and efficient income collection.
No organisation is ever going to say that they are wholly where they would wish to be in this regard – improvement is continual. But considering the role of social housing in the current wider housing context, the answer to the greatness question for Hull also has to have a focus on poverty, vulnerability and greatest need.
As need increases alongside austerity, Hull has increasingly sought to develop those services which address the fragility of the lives of some of our tenants. We have put resource into innovative homelessness services, working closely with brilliant partners in the charitable and RSL sectors, we have developed a quality shared tenancy offer for those who would otherwise be accommodated in depressing houses of multiple occupancy.
For children in care and leaving care, we have built new children’s homes and developed bespoke move on pathways. For those suffering domestic abuse, we provided land for a new women’s centre and trained all of our staff and those of our key contractors in domestic abuse issues. And for those suffering financial hardship we introduced new Universal Credit and Tenancy Sustainment support teams, co-locating our staff in the job centre, with our tenants running computer training courses for U.C. claimants to ensure they can maintain their journals. Up and down the country other housing providers are doing similar things; helping their tenants survive and flourish in hard times.
Today the Marmot Review announced that life expectancy for women living in the North East has declined for the first time in 100 years. This and many other factors point to society becoming increasingly polarised. In this environment, social housing providers are as relevant and needed today as they were immediately following ‘Cathy Come Home’.
But knowing what brilliant services the sector is providing, whilst holding an honest but absolute determination to address our shortcomings and at the same time a total commitment to providing better support to those that need our help the most, is something that fills me with pride. Pride that I belong not just to this organisation, but to this industry; jointly we are helping to improve the lives of millions of people. There is so much we can learn from our tenants, from each other and much we can collaborate on.