A housing manager/officer manages housing and related services on behalf of housing associations, local authorities, charities and private sector organisations.

The role involves managing a designated patch of housing and keeping in regular contact with tenants, looking after rental income and dealing with repairs and neighbour nuisance issues.

Housing managers/officers may work with specific clients, such as homeless people, minority groups or people with disabilities. They work within a strict but changing regulatory framework and are usually based in a central office or local neighbourhood housing office.

The manager role may involve line management responsibility for a team of housing officers, rent arrears staff and tenancy support officers and participation in more strategic projects.

Responsibilities

The tasks of a housing manager/officer vary depending on the organisation, its size, location and objectives, but typically involve:

  • setting rents, administering their collection and developing policies to deal with, and minimise, arrears;
  • interviewing tenants and giving advice on tenant-landlord relationships, house purchasing and benefits;
  • inspecting properties;
  • processing applications for housing improvements and repairs and communicating outcomes to tenants;
  • managing improvement loans and grants and administering repair and maintenance programmes;
  • managing nuisance orders, collecting information and referring cases to the neighbourhood nuisance team;
  • preparing cases and attending court hearings;
  • handling breaches of tenancy and leasehold agreements, which could culminate in carrying out evictions;
  • dealing with abandoned tenancies, squatters and unauthorised occupiers;
  • dealing with housing applications and the transfer of existing tenants;
  • liaising with tenant groups, local authority councillors, property professionals and other support and welfare organisations,
  • including social workers and estate agents;
  • communicating with wardens, caretakers, cleaners and maintenance staff;
  • encouraging and supporting tenants and residents groups and attending meetings as required;
  • planning and implementing slum clearance and the demolition of unused properties;
  • maintaining records and writing reports.

The role may also involve:

  • recruiting, training, supervising and monitoring staff workload;
  • generating revenue and implementing budgets;
  • identifying housing needs;
  • developing new housing schemes by reusing existing stock or managing new builds;
  • evaluating the efficiency of housing schemes;
  • building relationships with the community;
  • interpreting and implementing housing legislation;
  • recommending and developing local authority policies;
  • monitoring and updating contractors' lists;
  • investigating and responding to client complaints.

Salary

  • Starting salaries for housing assistant or customer service positions typically range from around £15,000 to £21,000.
  • Typical salaries for housing officers range from £21,000 to £29,000, depending on the type of organisation, qualifications and experience.
  • Housing manager salaries range from £30,000 to £43,000.
  • Salaries at senior manager, head of housing or director level can reach £50,000 or more.

Additional benefits may include a pension, private health insurance and a car allowance.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

In general, housing officers work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. It may be necessary to attend evening meetings with tenants or residents. For those working in supported housing projects, shift work to cover a 24-hour rota is standard. Many employers offer flexible hours, job-sharing and career breaks.

What to expect

  • Housing officers tend to be office based with visits to meet with tenants or residents. Housing managers may spend more time in the office.
  • Opportunities are available throughout the UK, but are likely to be concentrated in cities and other centres of population.
  • For many posts, particularly those in social housing, employers positively welcome and encourage applications from underrepresented groups in order to better serve their clients.
  • The job may be stressful at times, particularly when you have to deal with sensitive or frustrating tenant issues.
  • Travel within a working day is common, but absence from home overnight and work or travel abroad are uncommon. There are opportunities overseas to work in property management though these are most likely to arise in the commercial sector.

Qualifications

Although this area of work is open to all graduates, a degree in the following subjects may increase your chances:

  • business or management studies;
  • economics;
  • facilities management;
  • housing;
  • land, estate or property management;
  • law;
  • planning;
  • politics, government, or public and social administration;
  • sociology or social policy;
  • urban studies.

Relevant HND subjects include property and social, economic or business studies. In particular, the following subjects may increase your chances:

  • business management;
  • estate management;
  • housing;
  • public administration;
  • urban studies.

Some housing organisations offer graduate trainee schemes. These schemes generally provide the opportunity to gain experience in a range of departments and sometimes the possibility of gaining a professional qualification. They may also offer internships for graduates to work on specific projects. Directly contact housing organisations for details of opportunities.

The Centre for Partnership runs The GEM Programme, a graduate employment mentoring programme, which provides training and a housing profession qualification.

Entry without a degree or HND is possible. Personal qualities and experience tend to be more important than academic qualifications, although larger housing associations are more likely than other housing employers to recruit graduates.

Relevant postgraduate courses may facilitate entry, but you can also take courses while working. Graduates with a non-housing degree may want to do the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Level 4 Certificate for the Housing Profession. It is possible to study for an MSc Housing Studies or other postgraduate diplomas or Masters qualifications recognised by the CIH. Courses are run through CIH accredited centres and via distance learning.

Skills

You will need to show evidence of the following:

  • strong teamwork, interpersonal and organisational skills;
  • sensitivity and empathy;
  • an interest in working with diverse social groups;
  • excellent communication skills (verbal and written);
  • a customer-first approach to work;
  • negotiation and influencing skills;
  • leadership skills;
  • the ability to adapt to different situations;
  • self-motivation and tenacity;
  • problem-solving skills;
  • common sense and the ability to use initiative when making decisions; the ability to work under pressure and to meet deadlines;
  • numeracy skills - for calculating rent arrears and service charges;
  • IT skills.

Knowledge of housing management legislation, basic building construction and relevant government policy, as well as an understanding of current housing issues, is also important.

A driving licence and access to a car is often necessary.

Work experience

Pre-entry experience in housing or a related customer service field is essential for some posts. Experience in tenants' associations, housing association committees or in similar community roles is also useful, as is vacation or voluntary work with local authority housing departments or housing associations.

Temping as a housing assistant or in a customer service role can provide useful experience and a way to find out more about working in the housing sector. Public sector recruitment consultancies advertise vacancies.

Employers

More than 150,000 people are employed in housing and housing management within the UK according to the CIH.

Local authorities have traditionally been the main employers of housing professionals. In recent years, however, the transfer of social/council housing to large-scale voluntary transfer (LSVT) organisations has made housing associations the key employer.

Other typical employers include:

  • charitable bodies;
  • registered social landlords;
  • housing trusts - specialist organisations set up to develop specialist housing projects, sometimes with a limited time-span;
  • universities;
  • cooperatives;
  • voluntary organisations;
  • public service departments, e.g. within social services or health authorities;
  • private sector and commercial bodies.

Housing management has changed in recent years with the development of initiatives to tackle homelessness and social exclusion, the growth in the buy-to-let market, and the transfer of property from local authorities to LSVT organisations.

Look for job vacancies at:

Recruitment agencies advertise vacancies in the housing sector, for example:

There may also be opportunities to work or volunteer for housing charities such as Shelter.

Get more tips on how to find a job, create a successful CV and cover letter, and prepare for interviews.

Professional development

Graduates on trainee schemes usually gain experience in a range of housing departments and may be given support to undertake a professional qualification, accredited by the CIH.

Most employers run in-house training or hire training agencies to run courses on relevant topics, such as health and safety, dealing with difficult tenants, neighbourhood nuisance and regulatory updates.

Graduates who wish to gain a professional qualification accredited by the CIH should approach their employer for support in studying. Many employers are happy to support continuing professional development (CPD) of this kind.

Graduates looking to become a full chartered member of the CIH can study for the MSc Housing Studies or other postgraduate diplomas or Masters qualifications recognised by the CIH.

The majority of these courses include APEX, which is the CIH practice requirement for membership. If not, you will need to complete APEX separately through the CIH.

Chartered members of the CIH are able to use the letters CIHCM after their name. All CIH chartered members are required to undertake at least 20 hours of CPD a year.

The other membership grades are Member, Certified Practitioner and Fellow, see the CIH website for details about the level of training required for each of these categories.

Career prospects

There are various opportunities for progression and promotion to senior management.

Initial entry is often as a tenancy support officer, housing assistant, customer service adviser or housing administrator. Progression to a housing officer post then comes with experience and training. Graduate trainee posts are offered in local authorities and some larger housing associations.

Housing officers tend to progress in one of two ways:

  • Specialising in a certain area, such as homelessness assessment, anti-social behaviour, special needs housing, tenant support and liaison, allocations, rent accounts or urban renewal and regeneration. Local authority positions may combine housing with other welfare or social services roles, with responsibility across departments. This provides opportunities to obtain broader experience.
  • Moving up the management structure to become a housing manager, with line management responsibility for a team of housing officers. In some organisations there will be an intermediary step of senior housing officer or team leader.

More senior positions in housing are likely to focus on finance, strategy, research and development and policymaking. With substantial management experience, promotion to regional manager, head of service, housing director or chief executive is possible.