5 ways for Housing Associations to effectively engage their tenants
By Charlotte Cooper | Tue, Dec 21, 2021
4 min read
Over the last few years, digital channels have been playing a much greater role in how tenants engage with Housing Associations. From newsletters to social media, it’s never been easier to communicate.
If you want to explore the tools we have available to help you better talk to your tenants, just book a free Commonplace demo below.
ALL Social Housing Providers including ALMOs and Housing Associations must acknowledge the importance of engaging with tenants, as this can have a huge impact on your properties’ value. Company directors and Housing Association landlords who do not engage with tenants are leaving money on the table and risking consequences like loss of income, rent arrears, and poor Post Occupancy Evaluations. This is where working on a good communication strategy is vital.
In this increasingly digital world, a letter every couple of months or a rain soaked noticeboard around your properties just won’t cut it anymore. This is especially true if you’re looking to make upgrades to your properties and want to keep your tenants updated or gather their opinions on the project. We’ve found that striking a good balance between digital and physical is the way to go as it makes your communications more accessible without taking away the human element.
We’ve worked with multiple housing organisations, both public and private, over the years and have highlighted our top five ways that Housing Associations can better engage their tenants and reap the benefits of enthusiastic resident involvement.
Let’s get started.
1. Where to begin: How Housing Associations can more easily find out their tenants’ needs
First things first. You need to plan your resident engagement strategy. Digital strategies are a great way to engage, but without setting any goals, they’re not going to be as effective as you need them to be.
Start by planning what you want to achieve: whether it's a local clean-up project, involving residents in decisions over where new homes should be built or informing your tenants on a new decarbonisation scheme. It's important to get your aims right. For example, if you try to introduce community gardening with little or no commitment from the residents, it won't work and could even be counterproductive. There is no point planning an initiative that is doomed to failure before it’s even started!
Once you’ve got your goal, it’s time to think about the best ways to engage your tenants to achieve that goal. For example, do you already send regular emails and are they well received? Have you set up any social media pages for your tenants? How do your tenants already engage with you?
Below, we’ve listed some of the best ways to engage tenants online and the ways you can use them to your advantage.
2. Boost resident engagement on social media
It’s a fact that social media is a part of everyday life and that includes for businesses. While platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even TikTok have proven to be great vehicles for advertising, some are also an easy way for you to talk and receive feedback directly from your tenants.
For example, if you set up some dedicated Facebook pages, you can incentivise your tenants to join and then talk to them directly. In this day and age, we all want to be heard but sometimes it seems like nobody wants to listen. If however you take time out of your day to make a post and listen to the comments your residents make, then you'll be able to form a better relationship with them. Paid social media campaigns are also an easy and effective way to advertise as it’s easy to define your audience by age, location, interest and more.
Check out our tips on creating engaging social media posts here.
3. Create regular tenant newsletters
A classic way for Housing Associations to engage with their tenants is with regular email newsletters. Emails and updates are an effective way of increasing residents' sense of belonging and connection, which can have a positive impact on future service delivery and tenancy retention. Plus, it’s an easy method to share news, residency updates as well links to polls and surveys.
Many already do this, but are they doing it well? Check out a few tips to make sure you don’t end up in the spam folder.
- Make your tenant newsletter relevant: What are the main things you want to inform your tenants about? Housing updates? New community initiatives? A decarbonisation scheme? While you may want to write a long flowery introduction, keeping the news relevant to your tenants’ wants and needs is the best way to keep them interested.
- Include something fun: Adding in a recurring fun section is a great way to get people to open newsletters month on month. It could be a quiz, a small competition or a monthly highlight of tenants news.
- Keep it simple: Less is often more and that’s usually the case with regular newsletters. Sending out a massive chunk of text is a sure fire way for your email to immediately end up in the junk folder. Keep each point simple, add in relevant images and make sure to send a test email to someone and get their feedback.
4. Create online maps, surveys and forums
More and more Housing Associations are using online hubs to engage with tenants and identify problems before they turn into costly maintenance issues. By harnessing this potential, Housing Associations can create a greater sense of involvement in the running of their community, which in turn could lead to a more positive atmosphere.
Having a single online hub means you can have your property news and updates in one easy to use location that can be accessed anytime of the day. With online surveys and heatmaps, it’s easy for new and existing tenants to pinpoint their comments to exact locations and to view issues which their neighbours are bringing to light. All your tenants will need in order to participate is the web address. You can add this to existing emails or place QR codes around your properties that tenants can scan with their phones.
5. Engage tenants with direct meetings
Housing Associations should be more willing to meet tenants face-to-face to discuss issues affecting their lives, but that doesn’t have to mean literally. With many Housing Associations very reliant on telephone calls, actually having a live meeting to chat to tenants makes the whole process much more human. Depending on safety regulations, these can be done in person, or you can always host a virtual one. This is ideal for those who don’t feel comfortable meeting indoors due to Covid, plus you don’t have to worry about hiring a venue or its capacity. If there are recurring issues that your tenants have brought to light, take some time to address the issues directly and make sure to leave time for a Q&A session to set to rest other fears or problems.
In summary, to engage effectively with your tenants, you must listen to their concerns and evaluate what is important to them. You must also be flexible and adaptable. The Housing Associations we spoke with admitted that they needed to change in many ways, but most felt that it was possible, especially with the right guidance and support.
Want to find out more? Just book a Commonplace demo and we’ll show you the features best suited to building a more engaging relationship with your tenants.