Editor: The Housing Ombudsman’s annual review reported tenant complaints rose 104% in 2021-22, with 66% of these focusing on repairs. It seems that dissatisfaction with landlords and management companies is at an all-time high, something that has been exacerbated by concerns about the cost-of-living crisis and rising interest rates.
Tenants are likely to complain for one of two reasons: the quality of their home and/or the standard of service they receive from their management operator. Of course, these complaints have inevitably been aggravated by rising rents and a drive by asset owners to keep costs down.
There is still immense pressure on developers to deliver profits. Amid rising costs, they must save money somewhere, and I suspect they’re doing so by delivering below-standard finishes, or not investing in their buildings as they once would have. Ultimately, they are not investing in the infrastructure required to ensure long-term customer satisfaction, because this affects the gross-to-net figures that underwrite their investments .
Meanwhile, tenants now expect a great deal from their properties. Considering that current average rents equate to around 40% of average monthly incomes, without accounting for bills and other necessary expenditures, if tenants do not receive consistent, reliable service, complaints will arise.
Landlords must understand their buildings. A lot of owners don’t, and many are complex assets requiring specialist training to manage them. Developers might be working to keep costs low by scrimping on quality and failing to invest in long-term tenant satisfaction, which will only give rise to complaints.
You can mitigate this by investing in what you are delivering. If you invest in improving the quality of your development, you will reduce complaints later down the line.
Similarly, have an operator that prioritises customer service oversee your property. Look for firms that have a proven track record in customer service, invest in training, have stringent control over end-to-end processes and have systems that ensure a speedy, quality, response to tenants.
Landlords should do their best to establish a supply chain of service providers who understand their property and deliver top-tier services. After all, you are only as good as the contractors you use.
David Goldberg, chief executive, POD Management