Written by Kate Roberts, Associate Director of Housing

The tenant satisfaction measures final requirements – our reflections

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Following the publication of the revised tenant satisfaction measures (TSMs) by the Regulator of Social Housing, we know most housing providers will be busy trying to understand the changes and what they need to do next. So, to help guide you through this new regulation, we’ve summarised the changes announced, and what they mean for you.

The key tenant satisfaction measure changes

The 22 TSMs include 10 management information requirements and 12 tenant perception measures, and there have been changes to both.

On the tenant perception measures the biggest changes are:

  • The question relating to satisfaction with landlords providing a home that is well maintained and safe, has been separated into two questions; one specifically about the home being well maintained and the second about safety
  • The removal of the question on customers’ awareness of how to make a complaint
  • The introduction of a filter ahead of the satisfaction with complaints handling, which asks whether the customer has raised a complaint with their landlord in the past 12 months

On the management information side, the biggest changes are:

  • The addition of emergency repairs to be included, relating to repairs completed within timescales
  • The removal of domestic abuse, relating to number of ASB cases relative to the landlord size

Assessing representativeness – do you have all the information you need?

Something else notable in the final requirement publication was the additional guidance on what to consider in terms of ‘representative population’ – showing that the regulator has clearly understood the need for more clarity on the delivery of the TSMs. The challenge now for many landlords is the need to carry out additional work to ensure their data quality for the relevant tenant population is ‘sufficiently robust’ to evidence they have carefully considered the different customer characteristics that could impact their satisfaction. We’re already helping several providers assess their data so that they can make the necessary improvements.

Did they get it right?

We believe that the intention to try and make the TSMs as robust as possible is right, however, we are disappointed to see that the repairs filter question: ‘has your landlord carried out a repair to your home in the last 12 months?’ remains unchanged. Particularly, considering the origin of the white paper and the frustrations of tenants about reporting issues that were never resolved.

We know that one of the main drivers of tenant dissatisfaction is repairs that have been raised but not carried out. Excluding these tenants from this satisfaction with repairs is concerning. The hope is that the management information for repairs carried out within timescales will cover this, but without insight into whether repairs have been carried out or not, the tenant perception measures will lack context. This could also impact the level of trust tenants have in their landlord’s TSM results if the satisfaction score for repairs appears much higher than their experience would suggest. How this result is communicated will be critical to tenants trusting the results of the TSMs.

We welcome the decision to include a filter question on the satisfaction with complaints question, but we are disappointed to see the same hasn’t been applied to satisfaction with handling of ASB.

If you haven’t experienced ASB or how your landlord tackles it, are you truly in a position to offer an opinion on it? We know that only around a quarter of social housing tenants experience ASB. We would highly recommend that providers include either a verbatim question after the satisfaction with ASB question to understand the reasons for their response, or, include a question asking if the customer has experienced ASB in the past 12 months, so performance can be monitored based on recent experience.

What is missing with the TSMs

We were disappointed to see that trust and effort have not been included as measures of the customer experience, when we know these are key drivers of both satisfaction and the wider tenant/landlord relationship. Notably, almost all of our housing providers partners who are currently running TSM surveys have included these two questions into their surveys, as they recognise their importance. We would advise others do likewise to gather more insightful feedback from your results.

Some things to consider

Rather than thinking of this as another box-ticking exercise, we’d urge providers to view the TSMs as an opportunity. If you take the time to get the survey right, ask the right questions and have a clear plan as to how you will take actions forward, this could provide useful insight to improve your relationships with customers. While it’s perhaps easier said than done, don’t worry about how others are doing for now. Focus on your customers and improving your services based on what you are being told. And develop a strong customer-focussed culture, where staff have the opportunity to own the feedback and be a part of creating the solutions.

Although the measures don’t come into force until April, we’d recommend getting ahead of the game by running a TSM baseline survey now. This will help you identify how representative your survey will be without the need for stratification, and also give you the chance to start learning where you may need to make improvements. Use this time to start to communicate with customers about the improvements you are making on the back of their feedback:  rather than “You said, we did”, think “You said, we’re DOING” to show you’re acting now.

If you’d like further guidance on the TSM measures and what they mean for you watch our recent webinar, including comprehensive Q&A session. Or, if you’re a small provider with a stock size of less than 1,000 properties, join us next week for a free webinar, when we’ll be sharing the requirements specifically for you.

Or get in touch with our housing team to discuss your requirements and how we could help.