Disrepair is a great cause of concern among housing providers. With recent reports showing that cases of disrepair are on the rise, housing providers are left desperately searching for ways to minimise the risk of harm to both their properties and their residents.
But just what can housing providers do to prevent the onset of disrepair?
Embracing digital solutions is the first step. Innovative technologies can give providers more control over their properties by allowing them to monitor and analyse the inner conditions of a property on a remote basis. With the current Covid-19 climate, this protects the health of both the provider and the resident, minimising the need for in-person visits, and can flag up any potential problems within the home. In this way, housing providers who are paying careful attention to their stock can eliminate the problems as they arise and ensure that residents are always protected from bad conditions.
Through the installation of innovative technologies, such as the Smart Thermostat available here at Switchee, providers have the ability to identify and monitor their most vulnerable properties remotely. These devices collect valuable household data such as average temperature and absolute humidity rates of a property, allowing housing providers to identify potential issues within their homes and keep them from falling into disrepair without relying on the tenants to raise concerns. This collected information is uploaded to a secure server where providers can use it to gain a greater insight into their stock giving them the ability to pinpoint patterns and behaviours that could be to blame for the onset of problems (such as damp or mould) before these issues can spiral out of control.
Some technologies even allow for remote testing. A remote heating test consists of a series of checks carried out on the heating system to test its efficiency and identify any failures that might have happened. Through digitised channels, this test can be initiated over the internet and the results can be gathered remotely. This means that a remote heating test over an entire fleet of units is now possible - giving a housing provider an exact list of systems that are either acting inefficiently or completely broken at any one time. This means that tests can be carried out at-scale to identify any systems that are at risk of failure, all without the difficulties of having to arrange access to each individual property.
Another way providers can minimise the risk of disrepair within their properties is by strengthening communications between themselves and their tenants. When used effectively, communication can allow organisations to spot potential issues and intervene in the early stages before any permanent damage is done.
With Covid-19 forcing providers to re-evaluate how they communicate with residents, digital check-ins have become a popular phenomenon and there are technologies available that can sustain this. Take Switchee as an example, the Smart Thermostat allows providers to send communications direct to the resident and can track when a message has been received and read allowing providers to see that their communications have been opened. This increased traceability can help reduce the risk of litigation by keeping a clear record of all the communications between a provider and their residents, making it easier for providers to defend themselves against incidents of claim-farming. Digital communication can also be resent if it goes unopened, without incurring the same cost that a letter would, which can help make sure that residents are receiving vital information and that they can’t claim ignorance later down the line.
While there is no one answer on how best to combat disrepair, the evidence shows us that by embracing digital solutions providers stand a better chance at keeping their properties compliant with the updated Fitness For Human Habitation laws which can reduce the risk of costly lawsuits being levelled against them. Through the use of virtual resources and digitised data, providers can be proactive in their approach and make sure that all of their homes are in-line with the current government standards.