Housing officer job

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Stephen Anderson is an estate officer. He acts as a link between the council, which owns the properties, and the people who live in them. He manages about 500 homes and is involved in looking after lettings, rent arrears, empty property, and repairs and maintenance.

What happens when someone wants to rent a property?

I accompany prospective tenants to view properties to see whether the accommodation is suitable for their needs. If the people want to take on the tenancy, I will explain to them the terms of the tenancy and get them to sign an agreement. I coordinate their moving in, arranging any minor repairs required, the delivery of furniture, and helping to get utilities, like gas and electricity supplies, set up in their name.

Do you have any problems with tenants?

Sometimes, but only rarely. Some tenants fall behind with their rent and I contact them to discuss if they need extra assistance with financial problems. I may get complaints about noise or untidy gardens and I have to talk to the tenants to discuss how to solve such ant-social behaviour.

What is empty property management?

When tenants leave a property, I have to inspect the accommodation to see if any repairs need doing before the next tenants move in. When the repairs are completed I inspect the property again to make sure that it is ready to let.

Are you involved in maintenance work?

Yes, it is important to make sure that housing owned by the local authority meets safety standards and is in good condition. This could involve arranging rewiring, repainting or replacing windows in all the properties in a particular area. It is part of my job to ensure tenants who are affected by these improvements are consulted, and disruption to their home life is limited.

Do you have much contact with existing tenants?

The council also has a policy of involving tenants in problem solving and decisions about local issues. I go to meetings to talk to tenants and residents' groups to discuss topics such as communal areas within blocks of flats and on estates, play areas, litter, graffiti, and crime. That way we can all work together to improve the area and make it a more pleasant place to live.

What qualities make a good housing officer?

Flexibility is the key, as your duties are constantly changing throughout the day. You also have to be good at dealing with people. I spend a lot of time dealing directly with the public, face-to-face and on the telephone, as well as by letter. Good communication skills are really important.

What hours do you work?

I work a normal week, starting at 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Sometimes I attend evening meetings, but as I work flexitime, I can claim the time back later.

What do you like most about your work as a housing officer?

Some people struggle to find accommodation, through no fault of their own. It is a great feeling if I can help them to settle into a home, as it really improves their quality of life.

Dealing with difficult customers can be challenging and it is satisfying when you can stay calm and find an effective solution which everyone is happy with.

Stephen's route to his housing officer job

  • A levels.
  • BA honours degree in Housing Studies including a three-month work placement with a housing project.
  • Housing assistant for local council.
  • Promoted to estate officer after one year.

Stephen's housing officer tips

  • Subjects that involve aspects of social science and the built environment are a really useful background for this career.
  • Try to find some work experience in property management or customer service.

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Salary of a housing officer

  • Starting salary for new entrant housing officers varies between £16,900 and £19,300.
  • Experienced housing officers can earn £25,000 or more.
  • Senior housing officers at director level can earn more than £60,000.

How to become a housing officer

  • There are no minimum entry requirements to be a housing officer. Entrants range from those with GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) to people with degrees and postgraduate qualifications.
  • A levels/H grades are usual for young entrants. A relevant work placement or work with a voluntary organisation, such as Shelter, is helpful.
  • You could take a full-time course to prepare for this work. Courses include BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) in Housing Studies, a degree in Housing Studies, or a postgraduate qualification in housing.
  • You could go into work and study part-time for the professional qualifications of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).

Modified: 16 June 2013

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