Rent consultation feedback

Thank you to everyone who took the time to get involved in our consultation on rent levels for 2019/20.

Our rent setting process for 2019/20 involved two stages:

  • a series of focus groups and direct tenant engagement
  • a full written consultation issued to all tenants with options, including a “none of the above” option.

Stage 1 - Focus groups

BMG Research facilitated 19 focus groups with a wide range of tenants across Wheatley Group. 130 tenants and 4 prospective (waiting list) tenants attended.

We asked the focus groups for their feedback on the booklets we would send to all tenants as part of the formal consultation.  The feedback we received, including colours and specific wording, was used to refine the consultation booklets.

The focus groups considered how their rents are spent, under the breakdown of ‘for each £1 spent’ model.  Many tenants indicated that they were surprised at how low staffing costs are as a proportion of our overall costs.   This was generally received as a positive in terms of delivering efficiency.

Tenants were receptive to a higher rent increase than the base 3.3%, but this was on the basis that they would be “guaranteed that key elements of their ‘wish list’ would be completed within a stipulated time frame”.

Feedback from Loretto Housing focus groups highlighted that most of the tenants expressed a preference for a 3.3% increase.

Tenants were broadly satisfied with their housing and felt that they received reasonable value for money. Most felt that they lived in ‘good’ areas, paid less that they would in similar private sector accommodation, and were happy with their homes and housing officers.

An observation by Loretto tenants related to our cyclical maintenance and there was a suggestion that we should consider investing more to increase the quality specification, on the basis that this would increase the lifecycle and deliver better value for money in the long term.

Other feedback included how we engage and communicate with tenants, how they engage with housing officers and how we feedback to tenants. We intend to use this qualitative feedback to help develop future models of engagement across Wheatley Group.

Stage 2 – Full written consultation to all tenants

We consulted tenants between late November 2018 and 13 January 2019.

Each tenant received a consultation booklet and feedback form, agreed by the Loretto Housing Association Board.

89 tenants provided feedback, either by post, by phone, by email or online.

The majority of tenants – 69.31% - expressed a preference for one of the three increase options (3.3%, 3.8% or 4.3%).  Of those – the majority were in favour of a 3.3% increase.

Overall feedback was similar to themes discussed at the focus groups. Those who selected options 2 or 3 often identified very specific items they would like to see for the higher increase level such as specific investment preferences.