There is a lot of on-going conjecture as to what impact the rent reduction for Housing Associations is going to have on their ability to maintain services.
Recent high profile articles in a national newspaper expressed the concerns of many residents that whilst they are grateful to see a rent reduction, the potential for poorer service as a consequence is a real concern.
Like many people I have spent more time than usual recently reading articles and commentary on the likely impacts of the recently introduced rent reduction legislation in the Housing Association Sector.
And like many people having been in the sector for so many years there is a sense as with other changes before it that things will simply work themselves out.
But this one feels a little bit different.
That there is a political feel to the change in legislation is undeniable; essentially part of the government’s reasoning for the cuts is to help reduce housing benefit claims. While I understand their objective of reducing the welfare budget to aid the country’s economy what benefit does a rent reduction of 1% bring to the resident against the combined income reductions for a Housing Association for example with 30,000 properties?
It is little wonder that there is so much concern and so much uncertainty, and in truth I think it is probably too early to really know what the implications are. In fact, it is most likely that there will be a range of impacts dependent upon the strategy of individual associations.
But to address the concerns expressed in recent newspaper articles that the rent reduction will make it harder for landlords to maintain services for residents, my view is that there are plenty of options available to landlords which would enable them to avoid this.
In our business as a specialist repairs and maintenance contractor, much of our work is responsive; simply put the nature of this kind of work carries a higher cost than for example planned maintenance. Attending one property with a requirement to maintain or change a door lock is always going to be more costly per unit than pro-actively planning to maintain the doors on a block of properties.
It is where asset management really comes into its own, and with many associations working really hard in this regard it is entirely conceivable that the reduced income they face overall need not impact day to day services for the resident.
It is also about engaging the right contractors too; as a specialist contractor which is geared up to carry out a specific function we know that our delivery and our quality will always deliver better value for a landlord than engaging non specialist multi skilled contractors where there is not the same guarantee of quality, the right and the most competitive procurement processes, or delivery first time on time.
Like many maintenance contractors across a range of disciplines we have the processes in place to deliver the most cost effective service possible; attending a resident’s home once and once only to carry out a job has a direct cost benefit, and measured through our First Time Fix statistics we can see the financial advantages we are delivering to clients and of course the peace of mind we are delivering to residents.
So, yes we totally understand the concerns of residents about what the implications might be of their landlord receiving reduced rental income, but we also know that there are many options for them to deliver services to the same level through more carefully planned maintenance strategies and relationships.
Tristan Cooke is Managing Director for Mila Window and Door Maintenance – specialist contractors with nearly 30 years’ experience working in the Housing Association sector with over 1 million repairs completed.
milamaintenance.co.uk 0808 100 8881