HQN Blog: Social landlords are building homes and boosting finances – yet are still being slammed. Why?

Associations are working harder than ever to bulk up financial strength and build more homes. So why are you getting criticised so much?

In many ways, you are trapped by a couple of paradoxes. To get stronger you may need to merge, and that means you deal with a wider set of people in many different places.

Can you keep them all happy? It’s a tall order. You try to build homes quickly and that means working with developers. Time and again their standards of building fall well short of what any reasonable person would expect.

All too often it’s the association that gets hammered as the developer runs for cover. Then you try to sell homes to subsidise rented ones. And those leaseholders go over every bill you send with a fine toothcomb, as is their right.

So, you wind up covering bigger areas than ever and managing the expectations of a wider demographic than you imagined you would. In many ways, that’s all good news.

But in the days of phone cameras and social media, everyone is a journalist. If you screw up, there is no hiding place. And the board and chief executive are usually the last to know. On top of this we have febrile politics. So Momentum and others are boosting tenant campaigns. And there’s no point whinging about this as that’s their job.

So, what do we do about it? That’s what our reputation management event in London this month will explore.

There is no doubt that we are losing the reputation battle. We’ve seen savage criticism from MPs, massive social media campaigns, tabloid exposes and brutal documentaries on UK and even Russian TV lambasting us. It’s painful to watch, regardless of the rights and wrongs of it.

The housing minister, Kit Malthouse, tells us he’s tired of being the post bag for complaints about his local associations. But he also praises L&Q for their honesty and determination to sort things out. That’s why we’ve invited L&Q to share their learning – good and bad – at this event.

Karen Buck will also tell you about her vigorous work over many years to make sure social and private landlords do the right thing for her constituents. All too often, it’s been an uphill struggle. What are her dos and don’ts?

This won’t be a day for the fainthearted. You’ll hear a lot of home truths. As you know, there are plenty of well-funded private landlords waiting in the wings to replace you. It’s essential that we recover our reputation to prove that councils, associations and ALMOs are the best option. We’ve a lot of ground to make up and our speakers will help you to do that.

Hosted by communications expert Helen Reynolds, our ‘Reputation rollercoaster – how to stay on track’ will cover:

  • How to build a trusted brand
  • Practice what you preach – clarity of mission and sticking to your values
  • Putting residents at the heart of decision making
  • The importance of engaged employees and a happy workforce
  • Stakeholder engagement strategies – working with politicians and the media
  • Making social media a friend not an enemy
  • Understanding where reputational risk comes from and how to deal with it

To learn more and to book, click here.

By Alistair McIntosh, HQN CEO