Why get into working in housing?
Sam Wilson, November 18, 2015
This Wednesday (18th November) marks #HousingDay, an annual event aimed at raising the profile of the housing profession and celebrating the work that is done on a daily basis, across the country.
For many the housing sector is something of an enigma and this may well be because they are lucky enough to not need it. This being due to the fact that it primarily services the most vulnerable members of society including the homeless, unemployed, those with physical and mental disabilities and the elderly.
There are over 1,700 housing associations in the UK, managing over 5 million properties. These organisations range hugely in size from smaller organisations managing hundreds of properties to the largest that manage thousands. It is common for housing services to be delivered by housing associations rather than local councils although many housing associations are very closely linked to the local government.
The intention of this article and #HousingDay is to place a spotlight on the profession, raise awareness of the opportunities that exist and answer some of the key questions that you may have.
Let’s start at the beginning.
What is a housing association?
A housing association is a not-for-profit organisation which owns, lets and manages a number of housing properties.
The primary function of most housing associations (HAs) is to make housing available and affordable for all that need it. For a number of HAs this will involve focusing on one particular group of people or simply those in a specific area.
HAs oversee all aspects of housing all the way from application to allocation and inspection and maintenance. This will also include rent collection, advice services and dealing with anti-social behaviour. Housing associations will also handle all queries, issues and complaints raised by residents of their properties, these can range from issues with the properties themselves or with other residents or the local area.
As all HAs are non-profit organisations, all funds acquired through rent charged is put back into acquiring new properties and maintaining existing properties. The non-profit nature of the business allows HAs to charge affordable rent prices rather than charging the highest possible in order to maximise profits.
What jobs are there in housing?
The most common roles found within HAs are that of Housing Officer although this position can sometimes have a different title including Neighbourhood Officer and Estate Officer.
The duties of a Housing Officer are based around the allocation of housing and the day-to-day maintenance and management of a certain number of properties.
This will include:
• Assessing the needs of those applying for housing.
• Allocating vacant accommodation
• Carrying out regular inspections of properties
• Dealing with anti-social behaviour and broken tenancy agreements
As well as Housing Officers, other positions within housing include:
• Housing Advice Officer
• Property Surveyor
• Arrears Officer
• Tenant Participation Officer
• Accommodation Warden
The presence of these positions will depend on the size of the HA, smaller organisations are likely to only comprise of a small number of Housing Officers supported by a smaller management team. In larger organisations, duties are more likely to be split amongst a larger team in order to effectively manage a larger portfolio of properties.
Whilst it is not essential to have qualifications, it is becoming increasingly common for HAs to encourage staff to gain housing qualifications. The Chartered Institute of Housing is the chief professional organisation for qualificatios in the field and offer flexible courses at all levels.
Career progression will usually entail moving from Officer positions up to Senior Officer and Team Leader positions followed by management and director roles. In order to progress further, training is likely to be required at various points throughout your career.
Why work in housing?
The majority of those working in housing will describe it is a rewarding profession which provides a great deal of gratification in the knowledge that they are helping some of the most vulnerable people in society to secure suitable accommodation.
Working in housing also allows for the development of a number of key skills including:
• Organisation and time management
• Working under pressure
Housing is an essential industry without which, some of the most vulnerable members of society would be without suitable accommodation, which can have devastating consequences.
With great career prospects, it is an industry on the rise and most employers will be incredibly supportive of training and progression opportunities allowing you to develop your skills and prosper.
Follow us throughout the day as we post further blogs with real-life experiences of those working in the industry. Our Twitter and Facebook accounts will also keep you updated with current vacancies and our themed posts ‘I love working in housing because…’. Also keep an eye on the hashtag #HousingDay as so many organisations across the country take part as we celebrate together the great work of the housing sector.