J Fadden's posts
It is difficult to give advice without more information. On a general point, I would expect your Housing Manager to have partnership arrangements in place which would enable attendance at the meetings you describe – it may be worth checking with your Housing Manager what the problem is if this is not the case. Another general point is that tenants and leaseholders should be fully consulted on all service charges and should never be excluded from this consultation. In terms of the amounts charged, normally they are shared between the tenants and leaseholders equally – but in relation to the terms of their individual agreements and these amounts could be influenced by the size of their property, level of service provision and number of services subscribed to, as some properties may carry a number of additional ancillary services – such as laundrette, communal heating, cleaning etc. I am sorry my answer is a bit vague it is just difficult to give an answer properly without more specific information.
Posted in: career in housing
Don't be put off because you think your private sector experience will be a problem. I think this could be a real asset -there is much we can learn about how other organisations are managed and this experience could stand you in good stead.
You do, however, need relevant and recent experience in the public sector to give you the all-important independent reference of you work, achievements, attitude etc. A really good way of getting some hands-on experience is to volunteer your services for a few weeks to a local housing association, as most will readily welcome some extra help in return for a reference, and if you do really well, it can be a foothold there in case a vacancy comes up.
Another way to get paid experience is through an agency - register with a few agencies for interim and temporary opportunities - again you gain the experience, the reference and the potential opening for a job.
It is worth looking at the CIH website too as there is help there such as career advice, mentoring etc. and a range of publications available to help broaden your knowledge. In addition, if you have not already joined as a member then I would say this is essential to keep you in touch with the sector, give you access to local branch events and networking opportunities and help you make long lasting friends and contacts that will help you in your future career too.
Well done for choosing housing as a career - it can be hard work, very challenging and difficult at times, but the difference you can make to the lives of others less fortunate than yourself is amazing - go for it and don't give up - that job is waiting for you somewhere!! Good luck!!
I assume you have already raised the issue of concern with your local Councillor and feel the only option open to you is to raise a complaint. Apart from independent Councillors, most represent a political party and therefore you could complain to the leader of the appropriate political party in your area who will investigate your complaint and let you know the outcome. It would be worth also contacting your Local Authority for a copy of their complaints procedure involving elected members as there may be a specific process locally that you need to adhere to. Good luck.
Posted in: letting family properties to single people.
Each organisation will have an Allocations Policy to guide staff when allocating properties that are presumed to be of short supply. However, if demand is low for a particular property type or area, these rules may be relaxed to ensure properties are let and income recovered as they can't be left empty. Landlords need to be particularly sensitive when under-occupying properties if their tenants are dependent on benefit as their benefit entitlement will be cut if they are under-occupying their homes which will affect the affordability of the home they will be living in. You are entitled to question the organisation about your concerns either directly or via your local Councillor or MP.
Posted in: Informing tenants about changes to benefits
It should always be normal practice for landlords to keep tenants fully informed about changes that may affect them - welfare benefit reform being one of the biggest issues to date, needs to be communicated in a range of ways to reach the most people affected.
You can publish articles in your tenants' magazine or newsletter; you can write individually to those you know will be affected - running address labels off from the rents system that will filter the tenants who receive benefits; you can hold one or more public meetings around key neighbourhoods affected; you can run a roadshow where you are based in each neighbourhood for a day to discuss welfare benefit issues - you could partner with local benefit experts to offer on the spot advice and support; you could pay into a local benefit support/income maximisation scheme for your tenants to get individual assessments and obtain support; train your mobile staff to provide the right advice and support; and you can use regular communication methods i.e. rent statements to print messages about issues such as welfare reform on the unused space within the document.
I hope this helps, these are just a few ideas, but the important thing is that you contact all the people affected so that they can access the help that they need. Good luck!!
Posted in: under occupy
When you apply for housing you need to state your family size to ensure you are allocated a suitably sized property, as long as you did this honestly and the under occupation happened after you took up the tenancy your landlord should have no complaint under the terms of your secure tenancy. If you misrepresented yourself to get a bigger property then they may have cause to take things further. The only other issue is one of affordability, as long as you can afford to pay the rent on the larger property and keep out of arrears you should be okay.
Posted in: Static rent arrears
We would collect static arrears like any other tenant debt, as it is a current arrear that needs to be collected. You don't state the level of the static arrears you are concerned about, but if the level of the arrears is too low to be economic to pursue - i.e. less than £10, you may ask for Board approval to write off the debt as it is costing more in staff time monitoring, visiting and sending letters to recover something that is a low, insubstantial debt anyway. In terms of technique in asking people for repayment, when I was a Housing Officer I would have a purge once a month to contact everyone with a static arrear and either obtain a payment arrangement or ask them to clear in full if it was a low amount - if you are doing this, be ready to take card details over the phone to take payment immediately so saving further pursuance costs in having to make further calls. You could also run a campaign with a free prize draw for those that clear their arrears that month - might be an added incentive to get more than just the static arrears in - good luck!!
Posted in: am i homeless
You do not say whether you have custody of your daughter and therefore there may be help you might need from your local Social Services department as they may be able to support your application for rehousing. I agree with Nigel, unless you have intentionally done something in a previous tenancy you should be recognised as homeless and provided with, at the very least, temporary accommodation. You also don't say where you are in the country, but if you are in an area of very high demand such as London you should seek additional support from the CAB, your local councillors and MP as they may get answers that you are having trouble getting, good luck, hope you get something soon.
Posted in: Do disount loyalty cards work?
Tenant Incentive Schemes are really useful in rewarding the tenants that comply with their tenancies and save the landlord money in managing their tenancies - such schemes create ownership and a team approach between the tenants and the landlord that focus attention on the positives and help make a real difference to the neighbourhoods served. The best scheme I have come across is the Gold Service initiative at Irwell Valley HA and they don't use discount cards as they didn't prove to be as popular with residents as other incentives such as quicker repairs service etc. We have introduced discount cards at SLH and I have been disappointed by them, so we will rethink what we do next when they are up for renewal at the end of the contract. The best people to ask are you tenants - ask them what is important to them, what they would find useful and help them to be productive tenants - discount cards may be a quick fix and demonstrate a reward for loyalty, but it might not be what your people want, so ask them and go and look at Irwell Valley as that may help your decision. Good luck - its great to see landlords wanting to reward the good tenants rather than just concentrate their activities on the bad.
Posted in: Christmas Party
We organise a trip to a pantomime for families of active residents, staff and Board members to provide an opportunity for everyone to get together and have fun in a family atmosphere and everyone has a fab time!!
Posted in: Right to re house?
Your friend will need to look at the Allocation Policy for his Housing Association to see what it says about people who are "left in occupation" of a property. If your friend is not a joint tenant with his mother, then he will be left in occupation when she leaves and the landlord does not have to allocate this or another tenancy to him unless this is something covered in the Allocations Policy. As a potentially homeless case they may look favourably on him but with scarce housing in London they may take their chance to get the property back. Whatever they do, he will need to evidence how long he has lived there. Is he desperate to stay in London as Northern landlords operating in Preston will have one bedroomed flats available if he wants to move up there with her - cost of living is cheaper, it may be an opportunity for a new adventure!!
I look for relevant experience and attitude ahead of formal qualifications and therefore with your background as a serving Police Officer I would definitely consider you for ASB/Enforcement roles as you are already qualified given the job you do now. Once in the role, your new employer may help you gain formal CIH qualifications to give you the housing background to our role and therefore help you become more of an "all rounder" within the team. You have a lot to offer, I would speak to managers in your local housing organisations now, let them know your intentions and that may be enough to get your foot in the door. Good luck!!
Posted in: Joint Tenancy Issues
Don't relinquish your tenancy before you have fully considered all your options and have all the information you need in writing. If the housing officer will not give you the information, make an appointment with the housing manager and take someone with you to take notes and provide support. Ask for confirmation of what is said in writing and then you can fully consider your options. You must also consider what you would do if things don't work out in Devon - will you want to return to the home you have now? If so, only go for a trial to Devon and only consider relinquishment if you have no intention of returning. Good luck!!
Posted in: Given 2 hours to decide on a transfer
You have to make the right choice for you and your daughter - if you make the wrong decision and end up in the wrong neighbourhood you will have to live with that, so if it doesn't feel right don't rush into it. The landlord does have targets to meet but sometimes the targets cloud the fact that we are dealing with peoples lives here and it is not that easy to switch scools, find support networks etc. You are trying to do the best thing for your daughter - the problem is you are looking for accommodation in the most high demand area in the country and that is why your choices are limited. is there anywhere else in the country you could move to as you may have better options if you widen your choice of area - where else do you have friends or relatives that could help you relocate? Good luck with your search, I hope you find what you need soon!!
Posted in: FAO Housing and or Policy Officers
The main message is don't give up!! Many employers are also looking for enthusiasm and the right attitude - experience is fine but this industry needs the people with the right motives and attitute to do the job well - everything else can be learned. Please see the post below from Richard Baines at Black Country - follow it up, it could be a chance to have some useful experience at a good organisation that really cares about their customers - go for it - make 2012 your year to get a foothold in housing - a wise old sage once told me it would be impossible for me to get into Housing Management - I proved him wrong - look around you, if you feel you could do better than others already doing the job then have a go - you won't look back!! Good Luck!!
Posted in: My Housing Officer is very unhelpful
If customers are not getting the service they deserve from housing staff they need to take this further by complaining to the Manager of the service in question. The experience described here is not good enough - this is basic knowledge we are talking about here and to be honest, a "don't know" with no hope of him coming back to you with the answer is appalling!!
If a housing officer does not know the answer to a query I would always encourage honesty with the customer by admitting they don't know the answer, but I would always expect the "don't know" to be followed by "but I'll find out for you and sort it out".
Take this further - your rent is paying his salary, and the longer you put up with poor service, the longer he will continue to get away with it, good luck.
I would answer yes to all of this. If someone is a malicious complainant they must accept that this is a form of nuisance in itself, and as such, should warrant action against them that is appropriate to the level of harm they have caused. If this can be helped with the use of mediation then fine, but the situation cannot be ignored or it will just get worse.
With regard to reporting any evidence found of potential criminal offences I would assume we would do this anyway, in a consistent fashion across all the stock not just in cases like this - you can't pick and choose who you will report for infringements like this - you should just be doing it anyway or you legitimise ongoing criminal behaviour and the line you then draw becomes blurred.
Firstly go out and see the issue they are complaining about first hand - get away from the desk and go and see the complainant in person and "step in their shoes". Try to put yourself in their position and use your common sense to see if their complaint has merit - be honest, listen to everything they are telling you with an open mind.
Secondly, be clear about what they are asking for and be fair and honest in how you respond - remember, the professionals do not always get it right and some really positive change can come from a basic complaint - so do keep an open mind.
The third thing for me is open and honest communication - don't just investigate the complaint and fail to communicate the result properly or the rationale for the decision - if the decision is the right one then there will be a real reason for it and therefoere this needs to be communicated.
This is a good way of finding out an opinion across your customer base about a particular issue - but if they haven't had a need for a plumber recently they may be confused by the question - far better to target those with a recent plumbing repair to see how well it was done. The problem here for me is the number of surveys we expect our customers to take part in - STATUS is bad enough, then there are Tenancy Health Checks, individual surveys on service standards, follow up surveys on particular issues such as repairs and ASB - and then we wonder why our tenants don't have time to look for work too!! I know it is important for us to gather customer feedback but we need to ensure that our tenants are not overloaded with such requests or, like the rest of us, they may avoid such surveys altogether.
Posted in: Making the next career step
The next step up is either a supported housing officer or housing officer role unless you want to progress in your own organisation over time and look for the next level up from where you are now. It would be useful if you undertook further study in a post graduate housing degree that would lead to Corporate Membership of the CIH as many employers would look for this as you progress into higher roles up the structure. Your current employer may not want to give you advice on future career planning as they may not want to lose you to another organisation, but in my experience this is short-sighted as you will only truly get the best from those that work with you if you give of your best to them - I would rather have six months service from someone energised and committed to do a fantastic job than 20 years of someone who just does what they need to. If your employer is enlightened to help you plan your career then brilliant - work with them to plan your future, if not, you need to think about where you want to go and plan your future career from there. Think about what you want to be doing in five year's time, see if you can get day release from work and their support to do the post graduate degree, get some work experience during your holidays working for other organisations - you never know, it may lead to something better if you impress them with your work ethic and enthusiasm. Above all, keep focused, believe in yourself and don't be afraid to ask for help and advice if you need it - life is far too short to be doing something you don't enjoy so start planning your route now. Good Luck!!!!