Ensuring that their properties remain compliant is a big part of a Housing Provider’s role, but this isn’t always as simple as it seems. There are a number of barriers that stand in the way of a provider’s ability to properly maintain their stock: from scheduling appointments to gaining access to a home, providers have to work hard to ensure that their stock meets the outlined requirements. The risks of non-compliance are high. With an estimated four million UK households in the grip of fuel poverty, unable to afford to heat their homes to the temperature needed to keep warm and healthy, and an annual cost of £1.3bn is spent on treating illnesses caused by cold homes, ensuring everyone has access to an effective heating system is of paramount importance – especially in social housing.
Technology can alleviate a lot of pressure for providers in this area. By collecting household data, housing providers have the ability to monitor their properties remotely and identify any potential issues before they take root. This reduces the harm caused to vulnerable tenants and ensures everyone has access to a warm and comfortable home. But how exactly does technology help with heating compliance?
Technology is a useful tool when it comes to ensuring properties remain compliant with current government policies. One benefit of digitisation is that housing providers can easily schedule maintenance appointments, keeping their residents informed throughout the process so that LGSR visits can be scheduled around a tenant’s day-to-day routine. Digital technologies, such as the Switchee Smart Thermostat, can display messages from providers directly into the resident’s home making it easier for them to respond on time. This method allows for more flexibility than traditional communication channels. For example, technology can offer multiple dates and times giving tenants’ the chance to choose which timeslot is most suitable for them. This has the added benefit of increasing resident satisfaction levels while lowering the risk of non-compliance across a provider’s housing stock by boosting property access rates.
With an increased reliance on technology, housing providers can improve the traceability of their messaging. Many technologies, including the kind offered here at Switchee, display when the messages have been opened giving providers the ability to guarantee that their information has been received. This reduces any uncertainties regarding residents’ awareness of upcoming maintenance checks. It also has the additional benefit of minimising the risk of costly pay-outs by providing clear evidence of each instance in which a provider has tried to get in contact with a resident regarding property access. In a time where housing providers are facing a higher rate of ‘claim farming’, this tool is especially useful.
Digital technology can also help to reduce the strain on maintenance teams. Some devices allow for remote testing which gives maintenance teams to test boiler and heating systems at their convenience ahead of the peak seasons. This allows them to identify any potential concerns and install a solution with minimal disruption, lowering overall costs and alleviating the risk of resident complaints. Through remote testing, maintenance teams can test boilers in the summer when they are out-of-use and solve any potential issues before the seasons change. This approach sees a steep reduction in emergency callouts throughout winter, giving maintenance teams the ability to better manage their time.
An increased move toward technology is of great benefit to everyone, from providers to maintenance crews to the residents themselves. By relying on digital methods, providers can be proactive in their repairs and identify areas of concern before they become a high-cost issue, facilitating the pursuit of compliance. In doing so, the level of property access rates will increase while any risk to residents will be minimised.