or LinkedIn here https://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy
On Twitter, anyone who follows me, will know that I am always very interested in resident woes. I always want to know more, as it shines a light in many cases on ignorance, poor communication, governance/control of contractors, or in some cases residents who in whatever situation, are hard to please.
I must say (as I know quite a few tenants who read this blog), overwhelmingly, it’s the former, not the latter.
On a few occasions, I have read tweets & threads about residents, particularly in blocks and towers, not being allowed doormats and now video doorbells, the like of Hive & Nest supply.
Doormats when identified as fire risks, seem to make informed residents smirk and often kick-off, as their blocks are often less than what can be described, as ‘Fire Safe’. I have chatted a number of times with lots of contacts, such as Phil Murphy (@MancCommunities) on this one. It’s hard to see if this one is about a fundamental misunderstanding of general fire safety in residential blocks or overzealous paternal instincts. As Grenfell showed us, coconut matting doormats are the least of our worries.
So what of video doorbells? How could they be a danger?
Well it seems from some threads I have followed, they are a danger to contractor and servicing transparency. Some facts could be revealed that servicing contractors might preferred to be buried.
Servicing is statutory and should be undertaken with residents taken into account. Adequate communication, attempts to provide sensible appointments, gain access swiftly and efficiently. Solutions I often work with, are designed to make this all as painless as possible, enabling a high degree of “Getting it right 1st time”. It’s a no-brainier to work like this, as its actually the cheapest way to deliver a high quality service.
From anecdotal stories, this is not the experience of quite a few residents. Central London seems to be a particular problem, but I have read and heard stories from all around the UK. From where I am looking, transparency seems to be an issue, often between Landlord and (serving/repair) Contractor. The former should at all times be using systems to monitor the latter. Landlord should follow up with satisfaction surveys for residents to monitor. After collating that information, it should be used to better manage contractors.
Landlords are citing video doorbells as a data protection issue, as they might confirm presence of a Gas Engineer, making reasonable attempts or not to gain entry, before they card and record a no-access. I am not sure that argument can stack up. Removing the means of residents to monitor, does not solve probably a very real contractor management issue.
Too much of the ‘rapid carding’ by slapdash or on low profit margin contractors, can be detrimental to the landlords resident perception. This can cause issues with future repairs or potential added warning flags on rent accounts. Systems software will allow this, although that is not generally their original design intention. If a resident suspects this may be the case, they can make a FOI (Freedom Of Information) request. This will reveal documented opinions, as well as general expected data.
I have experienced contractors who were allowed to ‘mark their own homework’, to a pretty extreme degree. Almost drawing the graph and plotting the data which netted them the bonus agreed in the five year contract every quarter.
Often returns from satisfaction surveys, vastly differed from what contractor stats were being presented. Ramping up satisfaction surveys, using automated systems, has in some cases confirmed issues like that and enabled landlords to attempt to manage out that kind of disorderly behaviour.
Residents should not be automatically put in the doghouse in my view. Their feedback (and video evidence if needed), should not be ridiculed and ignored, but taken more seriously.
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Robert Cray - Right Next Door.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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