As if we weren’t already acutely aware, the Covid-19 pandemic has further hit home the harsh realities that many social housing customers face. Some are extremely vulnerable, have complex needs, lead complicated lifestyles and importantly, they need support.
At ADR we partner with many housing associations to help with mediation and we work closely with solicitors that work alongside social housing providers. In fact, we’ve put this article together with valuable insight from Darren Burton, head of housing consultancy services at Forbes Solicitors. Together we want to help shine a light on the type of support vulnerable tenants need and the roles organisations in the housing sector can play in providing it.
Tenancy management goes far beyond the roof over a person’s head and them simply paying rent. During the pandemic the government introduced a tenant eviction ban which underlined how important it was to protect the most vulnerable who may have been suffering more than normal through no fault of their own. This eviction ban came to an end on 31st May so now it’s even more important that all relevant organisations do even more to support vulnerable tenants.
In terms of housing management, organisations are now focusing on building trust with tenants rather than being unnecessarily intrusive. They are doing more to understand individual tenants, their backstory’s and their needs to offer more rounded support.
Darren Burton of Forbes adds, “Recent research has shown that the impact of the pandemic on our customers’ mental health cannot be underestimated and they are therefore facing much deeper challenges than struggling on a limited budget or battling with the minefield of the benefit system for the very first time. On top of this, isolation and loneliness have become more prominent along with significant spikes in the reporting of domestic abuse and hate crime as well as incidents of properties being cuckooed.”
At ADR we’ve done additional training around mental health over recent months so that we can support tenants more broadly than just dealing with disputes for example.
Darren continued, “Registered housing providers have a key role in the partnership process as housing is central to everything that happens in our communities but we cannot deal with all these issues alone. Now more than ever, there is a responsibility on housing professionals to be creative and innovative in their approach and access specialist support from external agencies.”
It’s clear then that good housing management post-pandemic is going to be significantly different to what it was in the past, in a positive way.
Help for residents
Discovering the smallest charity or advocacy service in a tenant’s local area can make all the difference to their life, but they need help to find them. Another key role housing providers can play is helping tenants find this local support.
These services can help tenants keep their home now that the eviction ban has ended and help them avoid potential legal intervention.
Developing effective individual action plans and aiming for early intervention are important factors when helping tenants achieve positive outcomes from difficult situations, regardless of the specific circumstances.
Mediation is a key tool to help tenants and their housing providers deal with a broad range of issues quickly and decisively, including:
- Rent arrears
- Breach of tenancy terms
- Anti-social behaviour
- Tenant disputes
- Refusing access
It’s important when taking any course of action to understand a tenant’s individual situation and why the problems arose in the first place.
Mediation seeks to facilitate a mutually beneficial resolution in all circumstances rather than dictating any particular course of action.
Find out more
Housing providers, talk to us and see how we can help you get more out of mediation.
To help you find out more about our mediation services we’re currently offering free 1-hour mediation consultations. Contact the team today on 01772 954602 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your slot. We will get to know you and your organisation and outline how we can help.