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2020 Tenant Survey Demonstrates Housing Associations Well-Placed to Respond to Twin Challenge of COVID-19 and Climate Change

Tenant satisfaction survey 2020 Cover image

Today, the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) launch the results of the 2020 Social Housing Tenant Satisfaction Survey. Key findings of this, the most comprehensive housing association tenant survey to date, confirm that 90% of participating housing association tenants are satisfied with the services they receive. Tenants have identified good quality housing (93%), efficient repairs service (88%) and estate management (82%) as the most important services provided by their housing association. Attending the launch will be tenants of housing associations, Túath Housing and HAIL and Barbara Steenbergen of the International Union of Tenants.

Donal McManus, ICSH Chief Executive said “The 2020 survey follows on from our first ever sector-wide survey commissioned in 2017, and ICSH members are hugely encouraged by this year’s findings, particularly in the area of tenant engagement and communication. 91% of tenants felt that they are kept well informed by their housing association of issues impacting them. This is up from 73% in 2017. Critically for 2020, and during what was an extremely challenging year for the sector, 81% of tenants stated that they were satisfied with services over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. ICSH members have stepped up in 2020 to ensure tenants feel safe and secure in their affordable homes.”

“The fact that tenants have rated the quality and energy efficiency of their homes so highly is a very important metric. Since the first survey in 2017, our sector has increased its social housing stock by over 20%, and we have an important climate mitigation role to play, in terms of innovating with increasingly more energy efficient homes, and rolling-out deep retrofits of our existing stock. The survey findings are overwhelmingly positive and testament to the dedication of housing association teams managing almost 40,000 social homes across the length and breadth of Ireland”

Participants attending the launch had this to say:

“I am a single mother of 3 children and also work part time. I found that when repairs were needed to my home they were dealt with quick and efficiently. When phoning the head office all of the staff have been pleasant and helpful.”

Karen McCann, Greystones, Wicklow. Túath tenant

“Being able to get outside our home to tend lawns, balconies, planters and flower boxes has been a blessing, especially during cocooning. We take pride in our home and environment. Several neighbours share in litter collection on the estate. We love where we live.”

Tony Burgess, Stepaside, Dublin. HAIL tenant

“The Covid-19 pandemic shows the urgent fundamental need of security of tenure and a safe, affordable and adequate home. Social housing providers must lead the way in good quality housing, community development and social services. Institutional tenants’ participation on a level playing field is the key: take their feedback on board and provide them with the necessary knowledge and information.”

Barbara Steenbergen, the International Union of Tenants

“Tenants are at the heart of everything ICSH members do and I am delighted to see such high levels of satisfaction amongst the tenants surveyed this year. As housing associations, it is crucial that we respond to the needs of existing tenants and plan for the needs of future tenants, if we are to continue to ensure people are happy in their homes and with the supports we offer.”

Pat Doyle, ICSH Chairperson and CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust

The 2020 survey provides the non-profit housing sector with robust data to illustrate a well-performing sector committed to tenant satisfaction. High levels of performance continue in areas such as staff responsiveness, communications and tenant participation, as well as the build quality of homes and the associated reduction in fuel poverty.  However, it also identifies other areas that require further improvements, such as the handling of anti-social behaviour (with Covid-19 Government restrictions proving particularly relevant). The survey also continues to raise important questions for the sector on attitudes to home ownership, providing improved accessibility in housing association schemes and retrofitting older stock to improve energy efficiency. The ICSH and housing associations believe that strong housing management is key to a successful social housing sector where tenants can enjoy long-term security of tenure at affordable rents.

Donal McManus added, “Findings like these identify where our strengths are as well as important gaps in housing management performance. However, they also reflect our sector’s capacity to improve and respond effectively to tenants’ concerns; working together with tenants, housing association staff are helping to develop deeply-rooted communities.”


Notes to editors:

  • A total of 504 15-minute telephone interviews, from 16 participating housing associations of varying size, were conducted by an independent research agency (Spark Market Research) during October 2020.

Key findings include:

  • Energy Efficiency: A significant improvement was noted in the number of tenancies identifying fuel poverty as an issue in 2020, as 81% of tenants said they were happy with the energy efficiency of their homes. Tenants in housing associations with older stock gave this question a lower satisfaction rating, highlighting an area for improvement for some AHBs in relation to upgrade works and retrofitting.
  • Tenant Purchase: One in two of the tenants surveyed considered it important to be able to one day buy their own home. 73% of these tenants were between the age of 18-45 and 33% were over the age of 45. 44% of tenants surveyed did not feel it was important to own a home one day. The survey findings also confirm that it becomes less of an issue for tenants who have settled into their home (typically for more than nine years), indicating that successful community development initiatives and positive landlord-tenant relationships can foster a sense of ownership that may lead to a change/reduction in the preference for traditional tenure models.
  • Anti-Social Behaviour: The report also notes that the handling of anti-social behaviour by housing associations is an area in need of improvement, with a 70% satisfaction level. However, survey responses suggest that reduced levels of satisfaction are likely to be linked to an increased awareness of local disturbances as more people work from home, and have spent a greater amount of time socialising outdoors in 2020.  
  • International Benchmarking: When it comes to overall tenant satisfaction, housing associations in Ireland rate very highly by international comparison at 90%, and rate very highly at 80%, when it comes to satisfaction with repairs and maintenance. When examining these figures against the 2017 tenant survey, it is evident that housing association tenant satisfaction in Ireland has increased, whereas our counterparts in Wales and Australia have a decreased tenant satisfaction level.

A recording of the Tenant Satisfaction Survey 2020 launch can be downloaded here.