Regulator research gives snapshot of Covid’s impact on landlords’ services and tenants’ quality of life

Regulator research gives snapshot of Covid’s impact on landlords’ services and tenants’ quality of life

Iain Muirhead

New research into the impact of Covid-19 on members of the Scottish Housing Regulator’s National Panel of Tenants and Service Users has found that a large majority of respondents felt that the pandemic has affected their landlord’s services and has also had a negative impact on their quality of life.

The research, which was undertaken in February and March 2021, asked Panel members to reflect on their experiences since March 2020. Around fourth fifths of tenants who took part felt that their landlord’s services had been affected by the pandemic. Almost half said the impact was significant.

Tenants most commonly experienced some services stopping temporarily and longer timescales for responding to queries. Most also said that their landlord had continued to provide at least some key services, with two fifths saying that all key services had continued.

There were mixed views about how well landlords had kept tenants informed about services during the pandemic. Around half of respondents said their landlord had kept them well informed about services, while just over a third felt their landlord had not kept them well informed. Panel members were most likely to have received information about how to get in touch with their landlord and office opening arrangements. 

Overall, more than half of respondents felt that their landlord’s response to the pandemic was ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good’, while just over a quarter rated the response as ‘fairly poor’ or ‘very poor’. Tenants who felt their landlord had continued all key services and had kept them well informed were more positive in their overall rating.

The report also examines the impact of the pandemic on Panel members themselves. More than four fifths felt the pandemic has had a negative impact on their quality of life, particularly on mental and physical health, and access to health and social care. Panel members also reported impacts on access to education, as well as on employment and income.

Iain Muirhead, the Regulator’s director of digital and business support, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of our lives. The feedback in this report underlines just how difficult the last year has been for tenants and landlords alike.

“Landlords have faced significant challenges to adapt their services with the restrictions in place. They will be working locally with their tenants to understand their experiences and to help learn and plan for the future. I’d urge social landlords to consider this report, including the suggestions for potential improvements, alongside those discussions.

“The report gives us a valuable insight into the impact of the pandemic. It provides context for our annual regulatory risk assessment of social landlords and our dialogue with both tenants and landlords.”

Alongside the pandemic, the research looked at members’ experiences in heating their home, rent affordability and financial circumstances. More than a quarter of members were having difficulty heating their home at the time of the research. Those who had difficulty in affording their rent were more likely to have had difficulty heating their home.

The research was carried out for the Regulator by Engage Scotland.

The Panel has more than 470 members. It is open to anyone who is a social housing tenant or uses social landlords’ services. Membership is diverse and includes people from urban and rural areas, across age bands, local authority and RSL tenants. Anyone interested in joining the Panel should contact Engage at

The report is available on the Regulator’s website.

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