Housing Manager

Housing managers are responsible for the day-to-day management of council's housing teams.  There is a range of responsibilities that a manager may oversee, varying from council to council but including:

  • assessing the needs of homeless people and council tenants ensuring swift allocation of properties in accordance with Council policy;
  • developing housing policies for the area and ensuring these are implemented fairly and in a sympathetic manner, to provide an efficient and caring service;
  • dealing with vacant properties, letting housing and re-housing existing tenants;
  • managing housing and making sure it's well-maintained, identifying problem areas and potential remedial action, effectively implementing repairs programmes;
  • organising the collecting of rents and dealing with arrears;
  • building relationships with the community and working in partnership with them to improve their environment;
  • ensuring compliance with tenancy agreements including preparation of reports and attendance at court as necessary;
  • recruitment, supervision, training and development of staff;
  • processing applications under the Right to Buy legislation, completing statutory forms and procedures.

Housing managers head a team of staff including housing assistants and housing officers that may be employed within several neighbourhood offices.  The size of teams depends on the size of the council as well as their emphasis on housing in their area.

Work Environment
Housing Managers are based mostly in an office although there is often a need to make visits to council properties and tenants.  Although managers keep usual council hours - a 37-hour week often including the opportunity to work flexible hours - there is likely to be some work outside office hours.

Daily Activities
Staff management would be a central part of the role. A Housing Manager could be responsible for eight or more staff - and would be the person to make sure that they were organised to do their job most effectively and efficiently, providing a high quality service to tenants and getting 'best value' for public money.  Work would include supervision of staff and monitoring their work, regularly reviewing progress and suggesting (and listening to suggestions for) improvements.  It is important that tenants are involved in decisions taken about where they live - not just their individual property but also the surrounding estate.  Developing good relationships with people from all backgrounds is a crucial part of the job.  The Housing Manager may take part in community meetings, either with some of their team or as the only representative of the Housing department.  They are also likely to work with community leaders to devise ways if improving the lot of tenants.  They would be involved in devising housing strategies, liaising with elected Council members, MPs, colleagues in their own and other departments and community representatives. Administration would take a up a significant part of their time, including:

  • responding promptly to queries - either from tenants, the public or council members;
  • monitoring the housing budget - keeping an eye on expenditure and making adjustments if necessary.

They are also responsible for:

  • monitoring the allocation of work to contractors;
  • making sure that contractors carrying out work on council properties are producing the right quality of work, to price, within deadlines;
  • authorising notices of repossession;
  • dealing with outside organisations, such as the police and social services.

Skills & Interests
You need:

  • good communication skills - both verbal and written, able to explain information to a range of people (from councillors to tenants and the housing team);
  • negotiating skills - good at defusing a crisis and able to remain calm under difficult circumstances;
  • organisational abilities and flexibility - to plan and prioritise work and meet deadlines;
  • leadership skills - able to motivate people;
  • initiative - good at making decisions and working alone;
  • analytical skills - good problem solving ability;
  • IT skills with a knowledge of various software packages for report writing;
  • advanced numeracy skills with the ability to handle financial systems;
  • a knowledge of housing management legislation, building construction and relevant Government policy.

A driving licence would be desirable.

Entry Requirements
To be a Housing Manager requires experience (usually around a minimum of three years but more probably five years) of housing management at assistant level.  Most Housing Managers have HNC/HND, degree or similar level qualifications (useful subjects include housing, business studies and administration) or other relevant Chartered Institute of Housing qualification.  Direct entrants can begin as graduate trainees.  They gain experience and take housing qualifications on a part-time basis.

However, people enter housing at all levels, including straight from school - for which they need GCSEs/S grades (Grade C/3 or above) in maths and English or equivalent qualifications.  They then study for the professional qualifications of the Chartered Institute of Housing and/or for NVQs/SVQs in Housing to Level 4.  With a combination of experience and qualifications they can gain promotion from housing assistant to housing officer and then to housing manager.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
It's sometimes possible to gain promotion within the same department, focusing on a different area of housing.  It may also be possible to move to another authority for promotion.

Further Information & Services
Asset Skills www.assetskills.org
Association of Retirement Housing Managers www.arhm.org
Chartered Institute of Housing www.cih.org
Homes & Communities Agency www.homesandcommunities.co.uk
You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales (www.careerswales.com/) or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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