When does a 1% tenant rent cut become a 15% cut in tenant services?
That is precisely what is happening in social housing! Confused? Read on.
Joe you’re an annoying git with your numbers – I have lost count (pun intended) of how many times this has been said to me and meant and taken as a compliment. Numbers are incredibly powerful as a means of explanation to everyone of almost any issue yet we rarely use them to explain (and some especially landlords don’t even try!)
An exception to numbers applies if you are IDS or Osborne as you can’t use numbers to explain because 2 + 2 always equals 4 we find numbers reveal policy failure and the direct opposite of the huge political spin Osborne and especially IDS’s “I believe it to be so” mantra when discussing ‘welfare’ is the obvious case in point as the collective HB reforms (bedroom tax, benefit cap, LHA and SAR cap) actually cost the taxpayer £1 billion per year MORE and in real terms according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies report from March 2015.
That is exactly what this says – the HB reforms cost the taxpayer more after inflation or as they put it “…real housing benefit spending was still £1 billion higher in 2015-16 than in 2010-11.” YET the public fail to see how a cut and a cut at source can lead to an increase in cost – yet it does because the numbers say so and 2+2 always equals four.
Yet some don’t even bother to attempt to explain with or without numbers and of course I mean housing!
Imagine the ‘humble’ social tenant who is getting a 1% rent cut each year for the next 4 years. That should be good news for tenants yet in direct response we see social landlords cutting staff by 15% on average.
This means, all things being equal, that the tenant gets 15% less service, 15% less maintenance, 15% longer to get a repair done, 15% cuts to anti-social behaviour services, 15% cuts to EET and any other service the social landlord provides – in all ways 15% less than they did before …and in return tenants get a 96 pence weekly reduction!
Social landlords are a bunch of bastards becomes the obvious social tenant perception. 96 pence per week cut and the bloody landlords who made a 25% increase in profits (surpluses) last year – a mere £2.2 billion for the top 75 housing associations too – and now they are cutting 15% of staff!!!!! Thieving money grabbing bastards and they are supposed to be charities FFS!!!!
Ok you get the message housing people and your reputation among your tenants is shot to pieces due to your failure to even bother to communicate!
You may recall on the day that Osborne announced the 1% per year cut I said this is a huge cut within an hour of it being released on the day of the emergency budget and I refresh your memory below:
That was 4 months ago on 8 July and yet social landlords have never in that time communicated to tenants precisely what this 1% cut means and never told tenants WHY a 1% rent cut means a 15% reduction in staff and services.
I saw this within an hour or so of the surprise announcement yet social landlords simply DO NOT COMMUNICATE with tenants who they also have the audacity to call customers!
What your communication incompetence means is that tenants blame you and tenants have a woefully low opinion of you that is getting worse by the day and you sit idly by and do absolutely bugger all to change this highly damaging tenant perception. This is made all the worse by your constant comms teams thinking social media is the dog’s bollocks and you all patting yourselves on the back saying aren’t we bloody wonderful at communicating!
There are a number of realities here:
- Social landlords do not see the need to communicate with tenants
- Social landlords think tenants are irrelevant and do not need to know the reality and adopt the usual landlord knows best arrogant as hell attitude
- Social tenants couldn’t give a stuff about an average 96 pence per week rent cut or the 15 pence per week reduction in bedroom tax this means
- Social tenants do however care greatly that your service level is to reduce by 15% and you haven’t told them why
Tenants have been kept in the dark by arrogance and inactivity and failure to communicate so would you blame tenants if they adopted a you can just wait 15% longer for your rent position? How about if tenants said As you’re providing 15% less service we will pay 15% less then? Isn’t that what tenants would do with any other contract? Isn’t that what any customer would do?
A 1% rent cut in isolation would seem to be an issue of contention between the tenant who would want it and landlord who would not. Yet it is a bloody woeful deal for social tenants and when they see that it means a 15% cut in services they will be angry about it and their anger is directed at…..yes the landlord rather than at Government who imposed it!
Landlords know best? The tenant won’t understand? We do a great job communicating with our customers? Take you pick social landlord as to which one of these excuses and positions you take best covers your incompetence in these matters.
Once again we see landlords oblivious to their own reputational risk or perhaps it is that landlords simply do not care what their CUSTOMERS think?
A tenant is a tenant not a customer. As the above proves the tenant is being kept in the dark and if anyone in housing can offer an argument to say the tenant is the end goal of the business please do so!
If I as a customer of say Tesco decide to change my shopping to Aldi or Fortnum & Mason’s I am a customer. A customer is ethereal, is flighty and has choice and has no constraints in such choice. Yet a tenant is seen by both landlord and tenant as something a lot more permanent than that and by the nature of the tenancy agreement is constrained and have little if any choice.
Oh and when a business reduces its service level by 15% (and especially by stealth) then isn’t the customer free to decide to pay 15% less for it too?
How about a Twitter hashtag #CommsZero is very apt don’t you think?
Landlord Service Cuts
How about social landlords seeking legal advice as to what repairs they can cut out altogether? See here which begins “Housing associations are seeking legal advice about their statutory requirements as they look to cut back on repairs and maintenance services without breaking the law.”
How about social landlords seeking to deregister so that they can avoid the imposed 1% per year rents cuts? ” Housing associations have sought legal advice on deregistering as social landlords, as they consider their options following the Budget’s rent cut.
Or social landlords seeking overall 25% cuts (while of course keeping the rent they charge for this at 99%!) here and they are just some of the cuts to tenant services they are seeking and planning.
Of course we shouldn’t forget that while HAs are hand-in-glove with Government over the right to buy that Cameron in PMQs spoke of the need to ‘reform housing associations and make sure that they are more efficient‘?
I would take huge issue with that Cameron point as social landlords provide 10 times the service levels of private landlords and at a rent of half the price and that must prove the social housing model beats the uber-efficient market everyday of the week and hands down.
Oh yes another reason for the hashtag #CommsZero
Just a thought, and not making mischief as there is a serious point here, the landlord tenant relationship is a contract with rights and responsibilities both sides detailed in the tenancy agreement. So as landlords are cutting their tenant responsibilities by (minimum) 15% which may also mean they are reducing your contract by 15% then should tenants offer 15% less in rent?
Is this a variation and diminution of the tenant contract and rights by imposition? In essence it is both so is there any legal redress to tenants who suffer this loss of right? Put another way why do we simply assume landlords are able to reduce their contractual obligations by 15%?
These are serious points and not merely mischief.
If you had a 24/7 call out contract with say a plumber / British Gas / insurance company and they then said this doesn’t apply on a Sunday (a reduction of 14%) would you then demand a 14% reduction in the cost of that service?