The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the providers of housing in a number of ways, operationally (in terms of new development, governance and ongoing operations) and financially.
Responses to the recent survey conducted by the Housing Agency Regulation Office indicated that whilst 99% of respondents indicated their organisation was “satisfied it was able to effectively manage its tenants and tenancies during Covid-19” there were a number of concerns identified:
- Housing management practices had to change, including moves to essential/emergency maintenance only, reduced repairs programmes and significant changes to protocols and procedures to ensure health and safety of employees, tenants and contractors/trade.
- Expenditure in terms of staffing costs, PPE, repairs and maintenance had grown and was anticipated to continue at a raised level in 2021.
- Fundraising/donations were adversely affected as was rental income and other non-housing income.
- Moves to digital communication for communication with tenants (and internally) as well as a suspension of home visits to protect tenants was generally well received and tenants supported other tenants.
The impact of these on tenant well-being, the impact of social isolation and the vulnerability of tenants, especially those having to cocoon and who needed support in terms of delivery of groceries and medical prescriptions, was a strong theme for AHBs surveyed.
Whilst the survey notes that many AHBs have shown extraordinary resilience in how they provide their services, those who rely on fundraising do face a significant threat to financial sustainability.
The medium to long term challenges arising from Covid-19 should not be underestimated and AHBs need to look both at their growth and new development prospects, whether they need to revisit costings of these in the light of Covid-19 and other demands on their resources and to ensure sustainability of performance and meeting objectives to delivery of services to existing tenants.
Alongside the transition to prepare for the statutory regulation framework, Covid-19 issues means that the demands on AHBs, their boards and staff members have never been greater.
The AHB regulatory regime is developing and placing greater demands on AHBs at a time when the boards of AHBs are facing unprecedented challenges emerging from the impact of Covid-19. We seek to support and assist our AHB clients in navigating this challenging period.
If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised or if you require guidance, please contact Michael Hanley email@example.com, Tim Waghorn firstname.lastname@example.org or Catherine Jane O'Rourke email@example.com at Hayes solicitors.
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About the Authors
Michael is Head of the Banking and Financial Services team at Hayes solicitors. He advises on a broad range of domestic and cross border finance transactions. His primary focus is acting for lending institutions and borrowers on leveraged/acquisition, commercial property, construction/development and SME finance transactions.
Catherine Jane O'Rourke
Catherine advises both employers and employees, in relation to contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including contracts of employment, workplace policies, workplace investigations, statutory compliance, redundancies and dismissals.
Catherine also has a background in transactional banking, including acquisition finance, property investment finance and development/construction finance. She has significant experience in both domestic and cross-border SME secured lending with a particular focus on multi-jurisdictional transactions.
Tim is a senior associate solicitor in the Banking and Financial Services team at Hayes solicitors. Tim has extensive experience advising both borrowers and lenders across a wide range of financing transactions including corporate debt facilities, complex cross-border financings, export-credit backed lending and leveraged/acquisition finance.