How The Internet of Things Will Transform The Social Housing Sector

Accessibility to properties, excessive maintenance costs, and tenant safety continue to be some of the most difficult challenges faced by the UK’s social housing sector, so with the rollout of the smart home technology imminent, the Internet of Things (IoT) could be the answer to freeing up money, time and resources for registered providers.

With the collection of real-time data, detailed appliance monitoring with intelligent self-diagnosis, and clever integrated IoT automation, the social housing sector is set for transformation and early predictions suggest it could save local authorities and housing associations millions of pounds.

Boiler efficiency and self-diagnosis

Remote boiler monitoring means that potential boiler faults can be predicted in advance.

If the boiler is not running at the function levels of efficiency expected, HomeCoverPlan’s smart boiler and thermostat can self-diagnose exactly what is going wrong and issue a warning before a more serious problem occurs. By detailing the problem and potential timescale to a more serious problem developing, the issue is addressed in its early stages allowing preventative action to be taken thereby avoiding property damage and consequential repair costs.

Landlords will get alerts straight to their smartphone remotely anywhere, any time through the HomeCoverPlan app; issues are addressed as early as possible avoiding tenants being left without heat and hot water. This early intervention means that emergency call-outs, and the costs and time associated, are significantly reduced tackling unwanted eventualities before they happen. Plus, an efficient boiler means lower energy bills for the tenant.

Landlords can track the functionality of every boiler in every property they manage through one app on their smartphone. The capacity to fix problems before they arise and the ability to save money on energy bills means the tenant-landlord relationship will be much more positive too.

Avoiding unwanted eventualities

It’s not just boilers that are monitored either. Health and safety breaches by landlords can now be charged in civil penalties of up to £30,000. Between 2011-2016, there was a crackdown on rogue landlords, which led to over 5,000 landlords being investigated potentially leading to prosecution and more than 70,000 properties being inspected. (Oneserve)

Installing a smoke or carbon monoxide detector has always been straightforward, but now with smart home technology, there is an advanced level of safety. Currently, a siren will sound, and an alarm will flash if smoke or carbon monoxide is detected but only the tenant will know about it, and that’s only if they’re at home. Now, with IoT technology, if smoke, carbon monoxide or a flood is detected, the landlord will get a notification to their smartphone instantly, the lightbulbs can be changed to another colour automatically as a warning sign, and the gas or water system will shut off automatically instantly eliminating the threat protecting the property and more importantly, tenants’ lives.

According to the BBC, in the past five years, local authorities in England have paid out more than £35m in compensation and legal fees to people living in ‘unfit’ homes.

Fuel poverty

There were 17,000 deaths last winter caused by cold homes. Dangerously low temperatures and frozen pipes have led to a fuel poverty epidemic in recent years, but clever use of IoT controls can instruct the boiler to regulate room temperature, ventilation and air quality minimising the build-up of mould and mildew caused by damp conditions, particularly useful in void property too.

Furthermore, a smart home offers tenants more control over their usage; only using energy in the areas where and when they need to with the option of capping costs per month to optimise energy usage and save money on bills. The HomeCoverPlan app produces data that can be used to continually advise tenants on how they can use energy more efficiently and save money in the process. In the long term, this advanced level of control could lead to improved health amongst tenants.

Effective housing stock management

Despite the rise in empty homes for a consecutive year (to 216,000, accounting for £53.6bn of property in England according to Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government), void property management has always been a difficult challenge for landlords to overcome, if at least for the lack of WIFI, but that’s no longer a problem – WIFI isn’t essential with a smart home system from HomeCoverPlan. Sim cards are installed in each appliance meaning that the data is recorded so can be accessed at any time; ideal to detect smoke, flood and carbon monoxide.

Landlords can also receive an alert straight to their smartphone if an intrusion or any unusual activity is detected. Intruders and potential squatters can be deterred or exposed with 2-way talking doorbell, video monitoring and motion sensors.

Multiple properties (of up to 100,000 heating systems) can be managed from the HomeCoverPlan app on a smartphone making it quicker, easier and more efficient from an administrative perspective. It will also be easier to ensure that compliance standards are being met all with the touch of a screen, making managing housing stock seamless.

Return on investment

Local authorities who have already begun rolling out IoT are reporting massive return on investment, namely an estimated 600% on a project in Renfrewshire, Scotland. (Digit)

For the future, the data collected from the Internet of Things technology will provide insights into people’s behaviour and habits meaning services and appliances can be tailored specifically to each individual. Plus, early detection leading to an improved standard of living means that tenants’ health and wellbeing is improved too.

Following the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire and Brexit looming, the spotlight is on registered providers to overcome major challenges, and paramountly, protect their tenants’ welfare. For registered providers, the latest smart home technological advances will mean smarter asset management and from a business perspective, free up money, time and resources. Wider implications of deploying IoT include contributing to the protection of the environment with increased energy efficiency and providing real-time data that will lead to further technological advances. Effectively, landlords are future-proofing their business.

IoT technology might be new, but it is an innovation that has robust evidence of return on investment with its practicality, functionality and efficiency. It doesn’t just look modern; it actually improves everyday living (and is probably more affordable than you think it is.)

Unlike other companies, HomeCoverPlan can deliver an end-to-end solution; from the smart devices, installation and integration, to the ongoing support, 24/7 monitoring, AND the app that connects it all together. For a free no-obligation quote of your complete smart home system or a chat about your requirements, call or email us.

If you are a landlord with elderly tenants, take a look at our previous blog post on ways that older people can benefit from a smart home.

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