Council housing annual tenants report

Every year the Scottish Housing Regulator reviews social landlord performance. You can see the City of Edinburgh Council’s full Annual Return on the Charter (ARC) and compare our performance with other landlords in Scotland by visiting the Scottish Housing Regulator’s website.

Like all landlords, the City of Edinburgh Council had to adapt to Covid-19 in 2020/21 which had an impact on service performance. The Covid-19 measures meant changes had to be made in the way services were delivered, as well as the way some information has been recorded and reported.

We are committed to addressing all areas where performance needs to improve.  We have a housing service improvement plan (HSIP) which is focused on delivering more effective and responsive services for tenants. Based on tenant feedback, the repairs service is our top priority. Read the latest updates on the HSIP.

Most of the tenant satisfaction results reported in the 2020/21 ARC were from the 2019 Tenant Survey, where face-to-face interviews were carried out with 1,000 Council tenants across the city. This survey sample was broadly representative of our full tenant profile in terms of age, gender, locality and house type. This was the most recent survey where all satisfaction questions were asked. Some satisfaction questions were also asked in the 2020 Tenant Survey, but the results were not reported in the 2020/21 ARC; the results have been included in the Annual Performance Report for information and context only. Landlords are required to carry out satisfaction surveys at least once every three years. All satisfaction questions will be asked again in this year’s Tenant Survey and the results will be reported in the 2021/22 ARC.

The performance report also includes some operational performance data and updates on the five-year Capital improvement programme.

We’d really like to see more tenants sharing their views and helping us to improve services. To get involved or to give feedback on this report you can contact us

HSIP@edinburgh.gov.uk 

Freepost Housing Research
Tenant and Resident Services
Housing Research G5
Waverley Court
4 East Market Street
EDINBURGH
EH8 8BG

Overall service

We have over 19,000 homes across the city, making us the 6th biggest landlord in Scotland.

Around 21,700 households are currently registered with EdIndex (Edinburgh’s common housing register for the Council and 17 social housing landlords) with around 30-40% of applicants actively bidding for homes each week.

73.8% of tenants who participated in the 2019 tenant survey were satisfied with the overall service provided by the Council. This is lower than the local authority average of 82.1% in 2019 and 84.2% in 2020.

Our 2020 survey found that 94.7% of tenants were satisfied with the opportunities they had to participate in the Council’s decision-making processes. This was not submitted as part of the 2020/21 ARC to maintain consistency with other satisfaction results which were from the 2019 Tenant Survey. It is encouraging to see increasing satisfaction in this area and performance that is above the local authority average in Scotland of 79.5%. Examples of decision-making processes include the current rent consultation which is open until 8 December 2021.

How we are improving

We are continuing to deliver on tenant priorities to build more homes, improve existing homes and neighbourhoods and deliver new and improved services.

The housing service improvement plan (HSIP) aims to:

  • increase tenant satisfaction
  • improve performance
  • reduce costs and ensure value for money.

The HSIP covers all areas of the service, including core service delivery, repairs, letting our homes, the way we communicate with our tenants and better use of online services.

Homes and neighbourhoods

Every year the council approves a one-year revenue budget, a draft five-year Capital Investment programme and a 10-year investment plan. Our capital investment allows us to build new homes and improve existing homes and neighbourhoods.

Over the last five years £160m has been invested into existing homes and neighbourhoods, with an important emphasis on making homes easier and cheaper to heat, including:

  • 3,670 homes with new kitchens and bathrooms
  • 5,530 homes with new modern heating systems
  • 2,250 homes with new doors and windows
  • 2,310 homes with electrical upgrades
  • 2,250 homes with external fabric upgrades
  • 320 neighbourhood improvement projects

In 2017, the Council made a commitment to develop a programme to build at least 20,000 social and affordable homes by 2027.  Half of these will be delivered through the Council’s new build programme, the other half will be delivered by our housing association and development partners.  For the homes developed by the Council, at least 5,000 will be for social rent. Since 2017, the Council has completed nearly 900 homes (480 for social rent and 411 for mid-market rent) and a further 460 homes were under construction at the beginning of September 2021.  There are also around 1,500 homes in design, development and procurement.  Mid-market rent are homes for rent to households on low to middle incomes. Rent for mid-market homes are generally set lower than private rent but higher than the Council or housing association rent. 

73.2% of tenants surveyed in 2019 were satisfied with the quality of their home. This is lower than the local authority satisfaction average of 83.4% which increased in 2020/21.

In 2019, 62.2% of new tenants surveyed were satisfied with the standard of their home when they moved in. Comparisons with other local authorities are not available as this indicator has been removed by the SHR since the 2019/20 ARC.

Both of these questions will be asked again in the 2021 Tenant Survey so we can continue to measure tenant satisfaction in these areas identified for improvement.

How we are improving

As well as building new homes, we are committed to improving our existing homes. Tenant satisfaction with the quality of their home is lower than most other Scottish local authorities, so we know there is still more work to be done.

Consultation with our tenants has shown strong support for investment in neighbourhood improvements. Our recent experience of lockdown has been a further reminder about the impact our local environment and having access to high quality, well managed spaces can have on our lives. Work is underway to improve the way local neighbourhood management services are delivered, to improve the cleanliness and maintenance of greenspace, and the prompt response to issues such as graffiti, dog fowling and fly tipping. These are areas identified by tenants and residents as the main factors which impact on satisfaction with their neighbourhood as a place to live.  Work is also progressing to encourage tenants to become more involved in local neighbourhood improvements.

We are also working to make our homes easier and cheaper to heat while lowering the amount of carbon they produce. We have been putting in new windows, doors, heating systems and better insulation so they meet the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH). We are now working towards the even higher EESSH2 standard by adopting a whole house approach. This means organising improvements house by house and area by area, rather than upgrading one element i.e. your heating system one year and your windows another year. More information on the energy efficiency standards can be found on the Scottish Government’s website.

Rent

We collected 96.8% of rent due last year, down from 99.6% in 2019/20. This is below the local authority average (98.6%) which has been fairly consistent in recent years. The percentage of rent due lost through empty properties was 0.9%, up slightly from 0.7% the previous year. This increase is likely due to the Covid-19 lockdown safety measures and periods where there were some restrictions on moving home. This remains an area where performance is better than the local authority average of 1.4%, which is also up slightly on the previous year.

How we are improving

Rent collection for all local authorities in Scotland has been affected by the financial impact of the pandemic on households, and some changes to formal debt recovery measures. Our rent service was maintained throughout lockdown and we’ve been continuing to make improvements to make it easier for you to pay your rent. It is important to remember support and advice are available to help you to manage your rent payments. If you’re finding it hard to pay your rent, please contact your local housing officer in the first instance who will be able to help and can also provide information on other support agencies. We also have an income maximisation service particularly aimed at tenants who receive any form of benefits. For more information contact

0131 529 7905

incomemaximisation@edinburgh.gov.uk.

Lettings

Letting homes was disrupted in 2020/21 due to the pandemic. We let 638 homes in an average of 64.0 days. This is far fewer homes than pre-pandemic levels (1,130 in 2019/20) and the timescales are significantly longer (up from 28.7 days). This is also reflected in the local authority average (59.4 days up from 37.9 days). It is important to note that there were control measures in place on moving home for much of 2020/21. The advertising of homes was suspended from the start of lockdown to the end of June 2020 while the Council and partner landlords adapted our processes to allow safe viewing, tenancy sign-up and essential gas/ electrical safety checks.  These important safe working practices have led to longer timescales to complete repairs and re-let empty homes.  Capacity of utility providers and contractors, and changes they’ve had to make to adapt to safe working guidelines have also had an impact.

How we are improving

As we move forward, work is underway to review the re-let process so we can turn homes around more quickly and to a consistent high standard. This is an ongoing balance between improving re-let times whilst ensuring the safety of tenants and officers as we start to move beyond the pandemic. This work aims to build on some of the positive opportunities identified during lockdown, such as the use of key safes to provide easier access for officers to the empty home to complete repairs and the re-let process as well as a review of the tenancy sign-up appointment and the information provided to new tenants. A range of improvements are also being taken forward to help tenants plan for and to settle into their tenancy, and to make the whole process more efficient from beginning to end.

Repairs

The repairs service is another area which was particularly impacted by the pandemic, with restrictions in place for much of the year on what type of jobs could be carried out. 28,343 emergency repairs and 16,465 non-emergency repairs were completed in 2020/21, which is significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels. Throughout the Covid pandemic, the repairs service had to adapt its service delivery in line with Scottish Government guidance. This meant that for much of the year, only emergency jobs or jobs for vulnerable tenants were carried out. The service opened up for non-emergency jobs when permitted to do so in line with government guidance.

Emergency repairs were carried out in around 10.3 hours, up from 5.5 hours in 2019/20. This is higher than the local authority average of 5.0 hours, which has also increased, and higher than the Council’s own target of 4 hours. The figure for 2020/21 is impacted significantly by the additional time of 15 minutes on every job during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure safe working and cleaning.

95.5% tenants were satisfied with the repairs they had, which is an increase from 83.8% the year before. This is higher than the local authority average of 88.8% which has reduced slightly over the last few years. This satisfaction figure is based on telephone surveys carried out by Repairs Direct with tenants who have recently had a repair completed.

Despite this satisfaction figure, we know there are occasions when things go wrong with repairs. We want every tenant to have the same positive experience of the service and this remains a key area for improvement.

How we are improving

We know repairs are a key priority for tenants. Apart from paying rent, it’s the main reason you get in touch with us. So, we’re working hard to improve the service. For example, we have recently introduced a new process for dealing with dampness, mould and condensation, which focuses on better communication with tenants. We’re working hard to make sure this works effectively. We are also making it easier to report a repair and to fix things first time for you wherever possible. We have already introduced text message alerts and reminders and we are developing that further, as well as working to improve online reporting.