The growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the housing sector is changing the way tenants engage with housing associations. What can it bring to a flourishing rental market? Henry Jinman, Commercial Director of EBI.AI explains more.
For 'Generation Rent' customer service is just as important as affordability. Statistics reveal that many more of us are now renting rather than buying our homes, putting increased pressures on landlords, property managers and housing associations to raise their game.
Young people struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder expect value for money with competitive leases and attractive amenities. Students facing the prospect of years of debt demand much more than brilliant academic facilities. Social housing associations with squeezed budgets are focused on delivering both efficiencies and great service to the families in their care. 3C Consultants, a leading provider of specialist IT consulting services to the social housing sector, tells us that technology is fast becoming an enabler of this new era of customer service. We share that sentiment as we have seen first-hand how the amazing world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the housing sector. Bots, chatbots and virtual assistants are revolutionising the way tenants and landlords interact with each other while satisfying the needs of today's tech-savvy generation which expects immediate results.
When it comes to property maintenance, AI works like a dream for tenants and landlords alike. Not long ago, you had to walk down to the concierge or phone your landlord to report a broken washing machine or boiler. Now, everyone can use AI chatbots to ask tenancy questions 24/7 from the comfort of their home.
For property managers and housing associations, AI minimises the maintenance headache that frequently gets in the way of delivering great customer service. Up until recently, staff were required to talk to residents, liaise with engineers, update multiple systems, call, chase, email and continuously update everyone, which took a lot of work time. Today, staff rely on bots to ask what jobs need to be done that day, and what deliveries they should be expecting.
Managers can even integrate the bot technology they offer tenants with the calendars of in-house maintenance engineers to offer time slots automatically to residents and then ensure the right engineers are available to fix the loose light switch in the communal lounge or the leaky tap in the top-floor apartment. That's exactly what the chatbot at JLL's property One Eighty Stratford in East London has done. Today, over 60% of maintenance issues are now reported through the bot (smashing the 25% target) and it takes less than a minute for tenants to report an issue and have an appointment booked in for a repair.
The possibilities for AI are endless and start well before a property is even built. Do you need to check the spacing for the steel beams on the 3rd floor? Or, ensure night-shift workers know where their co-workers placed new pipes and wires earlier in the day? Exciting breakthroughs in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) allow onsite construction workers to see through walls using a special helmet. Want to know what the livingroom in a brand-new apartment will look like with blue walls? Innovative visualisation tools allow architects to drop in various furnishings into their design or pull in 2D drawings to build 3D models to provide an immersive design experience that accommodates important feedback early on in the design process.
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