Housing Officer

The Job and What's Involved

A housing officer is responsible for the management and maintenance of rented properties within a specific geographical area. They may be responsible for the activities of a team and, depending on the employer, be referred to as housing managers.

Their role may involve:

  • Allocating vacant property to tenants.
  • Co-ordinating a waiting list and overseeing mutual property exchanges between tenants.
  • Inspecting properties and ensuring they are well maintained and safe.
  • Organising property repairs when necessary.
  • Interviewing applicants to assess housing needs.
  • Advising tenants on property matters and the benefits they may be entitled to.
  • Managing resident enquires and expectations.
  • Ensuring that tenants pay rent on a regular basis.
  • Dealing with breaches of tenancy agreements.
  • Preparing cases for court and representing the interests of the housing organisation.
  • Encouraging residents to set up tenancy groups and neighbourhood watch schemes.
  • Dealing with neighbourhood disturbances and anti-social behaviour.

Housing officers are required to attend a number of meetings and deal with a considerable amount of administration, which includes keeping records and writing reports.

Some specialise in a particular area of work, such as neighbourhood management, housing finance or welfare benefits.

They work alongside other agencies, such as social services, welfare rights groups and citizens advice bureaus. They also work very closely with contractors who are responsible for the maintenance work on properties.

Housing officers usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Some evening work may be necessary to attend meetings. It may be possible to work on a part-time, flexitime or job share basis.

The role is office based, but a considerable amount of time is spent inspecting properties, visiting tenants and attending meetings.

Smart casual or business dress is normally expected.

A driving licence may be useful.

Starting salaries may be around £17,000 to £20,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

One third of the UK population lives in rented accommodation, and over five million homes are owned for rental use only. Social housing is a growth area and there are job opportunities throughout the UK.

Employers include:

- Local authorities
- Government departments
- Housing associations
- Charitable trusts
- Voluntary organisations
- Property companies
- Private landlords.

Vacancies can be found through local council websites, while the official local government site, www.lgjobs.com, also acts as a recruitment portal. The Guardian's 'Society' supplement has a dedicated job section, and professional journals, such as Inside Housing and the Chartered Institute of Housing's (CIH) magazine, Property People, may carry vacancies as well. There are also recruitment agencies specialising in housing opportunities. A full list may be obtained from the CIH.

Education and Training

There are no formal academic entry requirements, but applicants with A levels or equivalent are likely to be at an advantage. Relevant work experience is useful and demonstrates to potential employers a commitment to the work.

There are various degrees in housing, town planning, social policy and urban studies that also provide an excellent grounding.

Degree courses usually last three or four years for a full-time course, or four or five years in the case of a sandwich course. Entry is usually with a minimum of two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or the equivalent. Candidates should check with individual universities for exact entry requirements.

Relevant postgraduate qualifications are available throughout the UK. Entry is usually with a first degree.

It is also possible to start working in housing at an administrative level and study part time for CIH qualifications.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is on the job, supported by further study for external courses and qualifications.

Housing officers can work towards the CIH's professional qualifications. Courses are offered part time throughout the UK, and through distance learning. They include:

  • CIH Level 2 Certificate in Housing - an introductory course at GCSE level that gives an insight into housing.
  • CIH Level 3 Certificate in Housing - equivalent to A level standard, and relevant to someone working in housing.
  • CIH Level 4 Diploma in Housing.
  • CIH Professional Diploma in Housing

There are also NVQ's/SVQ's in Housing at Levels 2, 3 and 4.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A housing officer should:

  • Have excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Have an excellent understanding of welfare benefits and housing issues.
  • Be able to develop a rapport and work with people from all backgrounds.
  • Be a good negotiator.
  • Be able to work on their own initiative.
  • Have numeracy skills and budgetary experience.
  • Be a good problem solver.
  • Be organised and able to prioritise work to meet deadlines.
  • Be able to work under pressure.
  • Be computer literate.

Your Long Term Prospects

Career progression is dependent on the size and type of employer. Within local government there is a structured promotional route, from housing assistant to housing officer/manager, and then on to senior/principal officer.

In smaller organisations, officers may have to move between employers in order to progress. There are also opportunities to specialise in certain areas, such as housing for people with special needs or the elderly.

Get Further Information

Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH),
Octavia House, Westwood Way, Coventry CV4 8JP
Tel: 024 7685 1700
Website: www.cih.org

Employers in Voluntary Housing,
Regent House, 4th Floor, 76 Renfield Street,
Glasgow G2 1NQ
Tel: 0141 352 7435
Website: www.evh.org.uk

National Housing Federation, Lion Court,
25 Procter Street, London WC1V 6NY
Tel: 020 7067 1010
Website: www.housing.org.uk

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations,
38 York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3HU
Tel: 0131 556 5777
Website: www.sfha.co.uk

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