New research from the Scottish Housing Regulator provides insight on the impact of COVID-19 on tenants. The report presents the experiences of members of the National Panel of Tenants and Service Users. A large majority of respondents felt that the pandemic has affected their landlord’s services and has also had a negative impact on their quality of life.
The research was undertaken in February and March 2021. Panel members were asked to reflect on their experiences since March 2020. Around fourth fifths of tenants who took part felt that their landlord’s services had been affected by the pandemic. Almost half said the impact was significant. Tenants most commonly experienced some services stopping temporarily and longer timescales for responding to queries. Most also said that their landlord had continued to provide at least some key services, with two fifths saying that all key services had continued.
There were mixed views about how well landlords had kept tenants informed about services during the pandemic. Around half of respondents said their landlord had kept them well informed about services, while just over a third felt their landlord had not kept them well informed. Panel members were most likely to have received information about how to get in touch with their landlord and office opening arrangements.
Overall, more than half of respondents felt that their landlord’s response to the pandemic was ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good’, while just over a quarter rated the response as ‘fairly poor’ or ‘very poor’. Tenants who felt their landlord had continued all key services and had kept them well informed were more positive in their overall rating.
The report also examines the impact of the pandemic on Panel members themselves. More than four fifths felt the pandemic has had a negative impact on their quality of life, particularly on mental and physical health, and access to health and social care. Panel members also reported impacts on access to education, as well as on employment and income.
Iain Muirhead, the Regulator’s Director of Digital and Business Support, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of our lives. The feedback in this report underlines just how difficult the last year has been for tenants and landlords alike.
“Landlords have faced significant challenges to adapt their services with the restrictions in place. They will be working locally with their tenants to understand their experiences and to help learn and plan for the future. I’d urge social landlords to consider this report, including the suggestions for potential improvements, alongside those discussions.
“The report gives us a valuable insight into the impact of the pandemic. It provides context for our annual regulatory risk assessment of social landlords and our dialogue with both tenants and landlords.”
Alongside the pandemic, the research looked at members’ experiences in heating their home, rent affordability and financial circumstances. More than a quarter of members were having difficulty heating their home at the time of the research. Those who had difficulty in affording their rent were more likely to have had difficulty heating their home.
The research was carried out for the Regulator by Engage Scotland.
The Panel has more than 470 members. It is open to anyone who is a social housing tenant or uses social landlords’ services. Membership is diverse and includes people from urban and rural areas, across age bands, local authority and RSL tenants. Anyone interested in joining the Panel should contact Engage at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
- The Scottish Housing Regulator was established on 1 April 2011 under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010. Its objective is to safeguard and promote the interests of tenants and others who use local authority and RSL housing services. The Regulator operates independently of Scottish Ministers and is accountable directly to the Scottish Parliament. It assumed its full regulatory responsibilities on 1 April 2012. The Regulator consists of the Chair and six Board members. More information about the Regulator can be found on its website at www.housingregulator.gov.scot
- SHR regulates around 160 registered social landlords and the housing activities of 32 local authorities.
- SHR sets out how it regulates social landlords in its published framework – Regulation of Social Housing in Scotland.
- More information about the National Panel of Tenants and Service Users, including previous years’ reports, is available at: https://www.housingregulator.gov.scot/for-tenants/how-we-involve-tenants-and-service-users/national-panel-of-tenants-and-service-users