Scottish Social Housing Charter report reveals high tenant satisfaction but work to do on repairs and arrears

Scottish Social Housing Charter report reveals high tenant satisfaction but work to do on repairs and arrears

Tenant satisfaction remained high but rent arrears are at the highest level since the Charter began

The headline findings of social landlords’ performance against the standards and outcomes of the Scottish Social Housing Charter during 2021/22 as well as headlines from the Scottish Government’s latest homelessness statistics have been provided in a new report from the Scottish Housing Regulator.

The National Report on the Scottish Social Housing Charter sets out the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as landlords started to build back the range of services they provide to tenants and other service users and recognises the impact of a range of other significant challenges, including with supply chains and the increased cost of living.

Tenant satisfaction remained high with almost 9 out of 10 tenants satisfied with the homes and services their landlord provides.

Areas that matter most to tenants were found to be:

  • Emergency repairs response time remains at 4.2 hours
  • Tenants satisfied with the quality of their homes decreased slightly to 85%
  • Tenants satisfied that their rent is good value for money remains at 83%
  • Average weekly rent increased to £85.36
  • Tenants satisfied with their landlord’s contribution to neighbourhood management decreased slightly to 85%
  • Anti-social behaviour cases which were resolved increased slightly to 95%
  • First stage complaints responded to in full remains at 97%
  • Average planned rent increases for 2022/23 went up to 3%

The pandemic had an immediate and significant impact on social landlords’ ability to undertake both reactive repairs and planned maintenance on tenants’ homes. This was reflected in the 2020/21 performance in last year’s National Report. During 2021/22, the gradual reduction in restrictions meant that social landlords could begin to address backlogs.

  • Non-emergency repairs completed right first time decreased to 88% from 92% - LAs 89%, RSLs 88%
  • Percentage of tenants satisfied with their repairs service decreased to 88% from 90% - LAs 87%, RSLs 88%
  • Average days to complete non-emergency repairs increased to 8.9 working days from 6.7 working days – LAs 9.2 days, RSLs 8.6 days

Tenant satisfaction with repairs and maintenance reduced to 88%, with small reductions among both RSL and LA tenants.

Rent arrears were found to be at the highest level since reporting against the Charter began.

The support and advice provided to tenants by social landlords and government initiatives to support households financially helped to mitigate potential increases in rent arrears because of the impact of the pandemic . This continued during 2021/22, with the launch of the Scottish Government’s Tenant Grant Fund aimed at assisting those who had incurred rent arrears as a result of the pandemic. This coincided with the easing of COVID restrictions and wind down of the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme.

At 31 March 2022, social landlords had total arrears of rent of £169,626,857. This is 6.3% of total rent due; an increase from 6.1% in the previous year, and the highest level of arrears reported in the ARC since the introduction of the Charter. The total arrears for RSLs reduced to 4.2% from 4.3% in 2020/21, while the total for LAs rose to 8.7% from 8.2%.

The report also found that:

  • the number of times households experiencing homelessness were not offered temporary accommodation by local authorities rose;
  • landlords’ compliance with the Scottish Housing Quality Standard has reduced;
  • landlords let substantially more homes than in the previous year.

The Regulator has also published a suite of performance information alongside the National report including individual landlord reports, comparison tool, and all of the statistical information landlords provided under the Charter.

The landlord reports and comparison tool let tenants find out about their landlord’s performance in the areas tenants said matter most: homes and rents, quality and maintenance, neighbourhood management, tenant satisfaction, and value for money. The statistical information allows landlords and others to benchmark performance.

George Walker, chair of the Scottish Housing Regulator, said: “We know that the last year has brought further unprecedented challenges for social landlords, their tenants and other service users. The gradual easing of Covid-related restrictions during 2021/22 meant that landlords could begin to recover out of the pandemic, but we know that this hasn’t been easy. And this has been coupled with problems with supply chains for labour and materials and cost of living increases. We felt that it’s important for us to recognise and report on the impact that these challenges have had on landlords, their tenants and people who are using their services.

“We’ve also published all of the statistical information, and our comparison tool, which tenants and service users have told us is a useful way to find out more about and compare their own landlord’s performance.”

Sally Thomas, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, praised the work of housing associations facing challenging conditions.

Ms Thomas said: “There is so much for our members to be proud of in this report. Despite the substantial impact of Covid, almost nine out of ten social tenants are happy with the homes and services their landlord provides. And it’s fantastic that over 90% of registered social landlords met energy efficiency targets: housing associations and co-operatives are making a huge contribution to fighting climate change by investing in this area.

“Of course, there is always room for improvement, such as on the time taken to complete non-emergency repairs or adaptations. However, it’s good news that the report shows an increase in the number of social homes available for rent, although we know there is much more to do to make sure everyone who needs a good-quality, low-rent home can access one.”

Share icon
Share this article: