Social housing providers set to harness IoT to stamp out unhealthy living conditions

SOCIAL housing providers are hoping to take advantage of the latest IoT technology to help stamp out unhealthy living conditions in their properties.

Local authorities and housing associations are bound to meet strict regulations on living conditions under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act – a law which became effective across England in March 2019.  The new regulations empower tenants with the legal right to take action against providers if their properties are not safe, healthy and free from things that could cause harm.

However, faced with maintaining a wide range of properties, most housing providers face the challenge of ongoing monitoring to ensure properties remain compliant with the law.

A new, innovative monitor promises to help housing providers stay in line with the law – protecting themselves against future claims whilst also protecting the health and wellbeing of their tenants..

The monitor, Envosense, uses IoT – or ‘Information of Things’ – technology to prevent cold, damp conditions in homes that could eventually lead to the onset of mould or other conditions that could trigger health complaints.

Cleverly, the monitor can also alert providers to cases of fuel poverty or fuel arrears.

James Batchelor, CEO of Alertacall, the company responsible for developing the device, said it offered local authorities and other housing providers a simple way to help make sure properties do not fall below decent living standards as set out by the Homes Act.

“With the new legislation coming into force in March, it’s crucial housing providers can use prevention to stop properties falling into substandard conditions.

“This is a game-changing low cost product which offers housing providers the chance to use IoT technology to help improve outcomes for tenants and to protect their stock.

“With the average cost of repairing a property affected by damp currently running into thousands of pounds, there is a significant benefit in identifying homes that require repair or maintenance work at the earliest opportunity.

“The benefit for tenants is that Envosense will alert housing providers to problems that may be fixed with a simple repair, or support and signposting towards help for those living in fuel poverty.”

The Envosense device records temperature and humidity levels every hour, uploading the data to the cloud where it is accessible by Alertacall’s dedicated interventions team or by the housing provider itself.

No bigger than a pack of playing cards, it adheres to the wall and requires no battery change for five years.

It also operates without mains charge or WiFi.

Crucially, it will cost just 50 pence per week, per sensor.

Mr Batchelor added:

“Our product might be innovative, but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. It’s affordable going forwards for local authorities and housing associations.

“Budgets are very tight across the sector, so we wanted to develop a product that would help providers save money in the long term, protect their stock and provide a healthier living environment for tenants.”