Phil Copperwheat, information systems director at Morgan Sindall Property Services and goldeni, discusses how technology and data can play a role in creating a healthier way of living and meeting climate targets
In 2019, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act was introduced, and, in the same year, the UK government committed to achieving net-zero by 2050.
These two initiatives have significantly impacted the social housing sector, both for tenants and landlords, with an increased focus on ensuring rented homes are safe, healthy and low-carbon and efficient.
Here, data and analytics company goldeni examines how the latest technology can support landlords to ensure their buildings are well maintained, compliant and prepared for future legislation.
At present, social housing landlords face a challenging landscape, with some councils reporting increases in disrepair claims and figures suggesting that councils in England spent a minimum of £45m on legal claims over four years. Property disrepair can stem from issues such as damp, mould and faulty appliances and, as well as being a costly problem, can cause health and wellbeing issues for the tenants.
In addition to the costs associated with managing claims and repairs, many social housing landlords are also working towards decarbonising their housing stock in line with net-zero targets. While the move towards decarbonising social housing is a positive step in the global climate crisis, it poses challenges for landlords.
Although the government’s social housing decarbonisation fund is set to provide £800m to support the improvement of insulation and buildings fabric first, further investment will likely be required to fully decarbonise housing stock.
Social housing landlords are now seeking new tools and strategies to help them navigate these two sizable challenges, which are likely to be felt over the next 25 years.
Using tech and data to create healthier homes
While there is significant work and investment required for landlords to meet the current repairs challenge, the long-term solution to making properties safer and healthier for tenants may lie in Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
Innovative IoT solutions can assist social housing landlords in providing safe and compliant housing by offering insights into their properties’ internal environments. By deploying sensors around the property, it is possible to monitor the home’s internal temperature, carbon dioxide, and humidity levels.
When these levels are out of their optimum range, it can lead to an unhealthy environment for the tenant and contribute to the growth of damp and mould, which may require costly repairs.
“While the move towards decarbonising social housing is a positive step in the global climate crisis, it poses challenges for landlords”
Gaining insights into the internal conditions of the property and combining this with energy metering data and smart boiler technology, landlords are able to identify tenants in fuel poverty and properties with poor insulation.
The data-gathering sensors can alert property teams and tenants when internal air quality levels become unhealthy enabling them to take immediate remedial action.
For example, the sensors can detect a low temperature but a high humidity level which over a period of time could lead to damp and mould. In that case, tenants will be sent an alert via an app, to advise them to open a window to improve ventilation or turn up the heating for a short period of time to help restore a healthy environment and reduce the chance of damp and mould.
IoT sensors can also highlight and prevent several other potential repair issues within properties. Leak detection sensors can identify water escapes so that action can be taken before significant damage is caused.
In addition, by monitoring boiler function, it is possible to locate operational irregularities and pre-emptively diagnose and repair faults before there is an impact on the tenant and larger, more costly repair work is required.
This real-time data into the performance and condition of housing stock enables a proactive approach to maintenance and repairs. Not only does this create a safe, healthy, and compliant environment for tenants, but it can also lower repair costs for landlords and provide an audit trail that can be used as compliance evidence to show that issues have been rectified successfully.
The path to net-zero
The benefits of this proactive approach may also help lower the carbon emissions associated with social housing. Monitoring the energy usage and temperature within a property makes it possible to identify if the boiler is being used inefficiently.
The sensors can then generate actionable insights to support tenants to make behavioural changes that will improve the performance of their heating system, reduce their energy bills and bring the property closer to the net-zero 2050 targets.
The sensors can also highlight instances where further insulation is required to improve the property’s energy efficiency, which allows property teams to act and reduce the emissions of their stock.
A healthier way of living
Technology and data provide important insights into the health of landlord properties and a tenant’s living conditions. Monitoring internal air quality helps to identify properties at risk of damp and mould, tenants in fuel poverty, homes with poor insulation as well as energy inefficient homes and heating systems.
It provides landlords and property services teams with a clear picture of where existing issues lie and when potential problems are forming. When used in the right way technology and data can play a pivotal role in ensuring that that the homes of the future are sustainable and healthy.
Housing Digital Stakeholder goldeni is revolutionising the way we manage and maintain our homes. Through a series of connected sensors and devices, goldeni delivers insights into home health, safety and environmental impact.
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