Why should you consider Broadband in Social housing?
Have you ever considered including broadband in your social housing, housing association or sheltered accommodation? If the answer is no, it’s probable that you may be worried about the cost or management aspect of it. But there is a very important reason why you may want to reconsider including digital access.
Reduce void periods
Social housing tenants are just like any other tenant; they need to have wi-fi and broadband access. Especially now, when the government is rolling out Universal Credit. To access it, claimants will have an online Universal Credit account to manage their claim, so internet access is a must. Providing Wi-Fi friendly accommodation will make your properties more attractive to the tenants, which can help you reduce void periods.
Also, tenants in social housing may suffer from digital exclusion if they don’t have broadband access. This is a problem because digital exclusion can isolate people. So many things are done through the internet these days that people who lack the skills and access to the internet may lose out on job opportunities, maintaining ties with friends and family, paying builds. Providing Wi-Fi access to tenants will help them through their journey towards digital inclusion.
One of the main issues social housing landlords deal is cost management. So let’s talk about costs then. You are probably unsure of what broadband and Wi-Fi has to do with social housing costs. As it turns out, quite a lot.
The digital transformation of asset management provides many opportunities to reduce costs and increase productivity. For example:
- The internet of things will allow us to remotely control different utilities and optimise them. Heaters would be able to be adjusted to maintain a certain temperature that would be adjusted against the outside temperature to minimise costs.
- In case of a leak or a repair, sensors would be able to detect it in real time, and the information would be sent to the repair team which could go directly to the source of the problem without wasting valuable time looking for a fault.
- An online communication platform between the management team and the tenants would reduce call centre costs and online payments may be set up to reduce transactional costs.
All of these fantastic ways to reduce costs and manage assets in social housing require one thing; yes you are right, they all need Wi-Fi. Ok, I can see you doing the maths. I can reduce costs, but I will still have to pay for the service? Well, I have some good news: you don’t! Why? Because this is a cost you can actually pass as an onward rental or service charge, so it’s the tenant paying for the service. This is cost neutral.
But what about having to add the cost and hassle of managing the service? Well, that depends on the service provider you choose. You may think that choosing a high street, one size fits all kind of solution because it costs less is the best choice. However, in that case, adding internet will increase your cost to serve (a cost you are looking to reduce anyway) because you will have to handle any problems and support yourself as the first port of call. If you choose a managed solution, then the management is done by the internet serviced provider and included in the cost, so then you don’t have to worry about costs or the hassle.
Sensors, smart houses and smart appliances consume a lot of bandwidth. To obtain these cost savings and benefits, the Wi-Fi you provide must be reliable and strong to handle all the added traffic of those devices and the tenant’s devices. It must be consistent; if the Wi-Fi keeps dropping it will affect the sensors, and they could reset to the manufacturer settings which would mean that you will have to invest in reconfiguring everything. Also, your tenants will not thank you if the speed drops all the time!
You also need to consider the range of your Wi-Fi signals. Having dead zones in the property is like having a blind spot and you can’t manage the asset. If a sensor is located in a dead zone, anything it detects can not be communicated to management, and your tenants will complain so it’s important that you can guarantee there are no Wi-Fi dead zones in your property.
Adopting broadband and Wi-Fi for your social housing or shelter accommodation can definitely benefit you. It reduces costs and increases efficiency. It helps reduce the risk of void periods, and it provides your tenants with the possibility to become digitally included. And with the right Internet Service Provider, you don’t even have to worry about managing it. What are you waiting for?