Part Three: Tech and the future of the housing sector

There’s no doubt that technology has changed the way that our world works and the way that we work within it. Over the past few years, tech has been shaping and revolutionising the housing sector. From online property portals giving greater agency to the customer, to tools allowing housing providers to cross-reference tenant details across countrywide databases, technology is saving tenants, home owners, landlords and local authorities both time and money.

But what’s next? We went back and spoke with Zoe Banks and Zoe Johnston on their insights into the direction it’s taking…

For Housing Partners Software Test Analyst, Zoe Johnston, “It’s about making all the information available. Tech has the potential to change the housing sector a lot if the housing sector is willing to let it do what it is capable of doing. If we can get to a point with tech where it handles all the legislation, landlords and local authorities might find that they would have some tenants able to arrange their own housing, for instance.

“I have family members who are social housing tenants and they do find it very hard to see what’s available and then figure out if they have any chance of getting a certain house. It’s a bit of a minefield and I think it can be made a lot clearer what housing stock is available, so that tenants can bid on it and then see exactly where they are in the queue to receive housing. Essentially, joining things up more.”

Changes

Also speaking on how tech is improving processes for social housing tenants and the homeless, 2nd and 3rd Line Support Analyst, Zoe Banks tells us: “The bit that’s changing the most is homeless people that are referring themselves or being referred to local authorities for help. There’s a lot of change going on there.

“We’ve been able to search for houses online for a long time – that’s not particularly new from a private consumer point of view, but in terms of being able to go into my local authority and tell them I’m at risk of being homeless, or homeless and then for them to be able to put it onto their systems, that is definitely a new concept I think.

“Also the idea of being homeless, or at risk of homelessness and being able to access my meetings or my documents on a computer or phone – whatever I’ve got access to – that is definitely a new aspect I would say.”

With regards to landlords and local authorities, Zoe Johnston’s take is that the technology of the past hasn’t made life altogether that much easier. It has still been admin-heavy; “there’s a lot of exporting data out and then going through it, which to me is a bit beside the point of having software.

“We’re trying to get to the point where, like with Housing Jigsaw, you have everything all in one place. At the moment the potential of Jigsaw is huge and I think going forwards if people can pick it up, it’ll change everything. It could just make life so much easier.”

Zoe Banks adds, “Within the housing sector, as in every other sector, tech is improving efficiencies and that’s only going to be a good thing for homeless people or people who are trying to move house.

“In every sector, everyone is moving towards more technical and more streamlined processes; that’s the direction it’s currently going in. It’s only going to make things better for customers; to do what software does, which is to improve processes and efficiencies. For example, if you take a local authority – by making their jobs easier and their lives more efficient, it’s therefore, going to help their own customer further. That’s the end goal.”