Repeat Repairs: A Hidden Epidemic?

Recent media reports have focused on what appears to be endemic cases of disrepair and maintenance of social housing stock by providers, highlighting the problematic issues that tenants have been subjected to through unsatisfactory repairs and unresolved issues such as damp and mould that are having a negative effect on the quality of life of residents.

ITV News investigations have uncovered how social housing tenants were living in far from ideal conditions with residents suffering from an array of problems including leaks and mould-infestestation. This has brought the issue to the forefront of the news agenda and has even resulted in questions being raised in Parliament.

This rise in disrepair claims comes at a time when, as a result of the recent social housing whitepaper and new Tennant Satisfaction Measures mean tenants should be at the centre of policy and their voice heard. The effect of the media spotlight being shone on what was a hitherto unreported endemic is that social landlords have suffered reputational damage and are generally perceived by the wider public as uncaring, faceless entities that don’t have their customers’ best interests at heart.

Perception Is Reality?

Of course, the reality is that social housing providers are not the cause of the current widely reported disrepair issues and it is in fact the outmoded KPIs and performance metrics employed by housing providers that have given rise to the situation we see today. In focusing on job volumes and quickness of resolution, social landlords have unwittingly created a culture of speed and have neglected to focus on the quality and longevity of the repairs carried out.

Through analysing over 25 landlords’ data across 300,000 tenancies and over 1 million repairs jobs repairs jobs, Mobysoft has uncovered there is a pervasive issue with jobs being done quickly, not lasting, and not resolving the root cause, meaning that repeat fixes are necessary. Mobysoft estimates that 17% of repairs are repeaters, a number that equates to 3.3 million of 19.4 million annual repairs.

How We Got Here

By measuring KPIs such as ‘first time fix’ and length of time taken to attend a repairs job, the maintenance arm of councils and housing associations are often blind to problematic repairs that have the potential to escalate. Whilst an operative may record that they have attended a job and resolved the issue and the tenant reports that they are satisfied with the work carried out, these metrics often don’t paint a true picture of the situation.

The solution to preventing what has been a ‘hidden’ issue is to re-evaluate the metrics employed, changing to focus on customers as opposed to outcomes. By employing predictive analytics and using the available data to gain insight on underlying issues, services will be able to more effectively allocate resources and empower operatives to offer a repair service that is of a higher quality with sustainable fixes.

Repairs metrics set by the regulator tend to focus on speed of service and ‘first time fix’ as opposed to measuring the quality and sustainability of repairs and maintenance.”

By adopting more people-focused performance metrics, the insight available not only allows trade colleagues to fully understand what is required for a particular repairs job. Therefore, once in attendance at a job, the trades colleague will have been able to fully evaluate the requirements and deliver a service that will not escalate further leading to multiple visits (and further stretching of resources).

Uncovering Risks to Repairs & Maintenance Service Levels When Delivering New TSM Standards

Given that the government has recently published a raft of new Tenant Satisfaction measures, it’s imperative that social landlords implement and deliver a fit-for-purpose repairs and maintenance service, now more than ever. Formulated by the government and due to be fully rolled out by April 2023, the measures set out 22 criteria that must be met by social landlords. Whilst the measures are many and varied, there are some pertinent ones that are essential for the delivery of the provision of an effective repairs and maintenance operation.

What’s important for social landlords in satisfying these measures is that they are able to evidence that they are addressing a specific issue. By merely ‘ticking boxes’ however, deeper problems may be glossed over and left unaddressed. It’s for this reason that an accurate, thorough reporting system is imperative – get the data insight right and preventing problems before they have opportunity to escalate is simple and results in a better service offered for all. To learn more about problematic repeat repairs and how they can negatively impact landlords ability to meet Tenant Satisfaction Measures, download our in-depth report that draws on analysis of over 25 landlords data across 300,000 tenancies and over 1 million repairs jobs, harnessing Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to uncover a pervasive issue in the sector around repairs that correlates and impacts customer satisfaction.

Dean Quinn
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