How to become a housing officer (plus duties and skills)
Updated 5 December 2023
If you're passionate about helping people, you could enjoy a career as a housing officer. Housing officers are responsible for working with tenants who live in social housing, helping them to manage their tenancies and ensuring that your organisation meets the needs of its tenants. This involves working with tenants daily and dealing with complaints, concerns and requests. In this article, we explore the role of a housing officer, including typical housing officer responsibilities, and look at how to become a housing officer and what skills housing officers usually possess.
What is a housing officer?
Before finding out how to become a housing officer, it's essential to understand the purpose of this role. A housing officer is a professional who works in the public sector to ensure that people living in social housing are secure in their accommodation. This involves checking in regularly with tenants and ensuring that their housing is in good condition, arranging any repairs necessary and helping tenants to manage their rental payments and other fees. Housing officers work for a range of employers in the public sector, including local councils and housing associations, charities and private companies.
Housing officers work with tenants who may have experienced homelessness in the recent past, or who might otherwise be homeless without the assistance of social housing. This means that housing officers often work with vulnerable tenants who could be at risk of unfair treatment by landlords and managers. Housing officers play a vital role within most social housing systems because they help tenants to manage their housing needs without compromising their dignity or privacy. Some of the typical responsibilities of a housing officer include:
setting and collecting rents from tenants
communicating with tenants and giving advice
arranging repairs and housing improvements
managing nuisance orders and referring complaints to a specialist team
preparing cases and attending court hearings
managing breaches of tenancy agreements
preparing abandoned properties for new tenants
liaising with maintenance staff, including cleaners and caretakers
maintaining property records and writing reports
How to become a housing officer
If you're interested in working as a housing officer or housing manager, knowing which skills and qualifications might help you secure a housing officer role is important. Housing officers are usually university graduates with at least some experience working or volunteering within the housing sector, although there are other routes into this career that don't require a university degree. Follow the steps below to learn how to become a housing officer via graduate and non-graduate entry routes:
1. Go to university
Most housing officers have an undergraduate degree, and subjects like housing studies, law, property management, social policy and building surveying are particularly relevant to this career path. Most degrees at the undergraduate level can help you to develop some of the skills that housing officers require, including communication skills, time management and organisation and critical thinking. By going to university before embarking upon a career as a housing officer, you may be able to start at a higher salary or progress to managerial positions more quickly.
2. Study in college
If you don't want to go to university, you could study relevant courses in college before applying for housing officer jobs. College courses require GCSEs in grades 9 to 4, and relevant college courses include certificates like the Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Housing Practice. College courses teach essential skills and knowledge relating to housing management and practice, including relevant legislation governing social housing and useful skills for housing managers, officers and landlords.
3. Apply for apprenticeships
It's also possible to become a housing officer by undertaking an apprenticeship. Relevant apprenticeships include the housing property assistant intermediate apprenticeship, followed by a housing and property management advanced apprenticeship. Apprenticeships like these offer candidates the opportunity to learn important skills while working and earning a wage and only require GCSEs for entry.
4. Volunteer with relevant charities
There are lots of opportunities to volunteer with housing charities such as Shelter, and volunteering may help you to develop relevant skills and demonstrate your passion for social housing issues to employers. Contact housing charities in your areas and ask what positions are available for volunteers or inexperienced candidates. You could find work in communications, customer service, administration or other roles. Volunteering for a charity is an effective way to get basic experience in housing management and get some references for future job applications.
5. Get work experience
Alongside volunteering, it's also possible to gain work experience in paid roles within the housing sector or customer service. Customer service roles in call centres help you to develop important communication skills and demonstrate your ability to work with customers and clients, while experience working in reception or administration roles in the housing sector demonstrates an understanding of the sector and its demands. If you're struggling to secure a role as a housing officer, gaining relevant work experience in other roles may help you to get the job you want.
6. Apply for roles
Once you have relevant qualifications and experience in housing and customer service, apply for roles as a housing officer at housing associations, charities and councils near you. Housing officer roles are available everywhere, though you may find more roles are available in towns and cities where there are more homeless people. Before applying for each role, write a unique cover letter tailored to the job advert you're applying for and make sure that your CV demonstrates all of the criteria listed on the advert and prepare STAR answers to interview questions in advance.
What skills do housing officers possess?
Before applying for roles as a housing officer, developing relevant skills in communication, management and empathy may help you to succeed in your career. Most of the skills that housing officers use daily are soft skills, which means that they relate to the personal qualities that you demonstrate while you work. Housing officers also require a good working knowledge of relevant housing regulations, benefits and fees. Below is a list of some of the most important skills for housing officers:
Housing officers have strong leadership skills, enabling them to effectively manage people from very different backgrounds. Relevant leadership skills to this role include the ability to make fast decisions, delegation skills and the ability to motivate others. It's also important that housing officers know how to handle difficult situations tactfully and are capable of firm instruction and conflict resolution. Housing officers may work with challenging clients who don't want their help. Leadership skills can help in such situations and prevent further issues from arising later by ensuring good relationships between officers and tenants.
Related: Top 9 leadership skills to develop
Communication skills are similarly important for most housing officers, particularly strong verbal communication skills. This enables housing officers to communicate effectively with tenants, landlords, cleaners and maintenance workers. Tenants living in social housing include people from a wide range of backgrounds, including young professionals, families, carers and people with disabilities or additional care needs. The ability to communicate clearly and concisely convey difficult ideas helps housing officers to do their jobs effectively.
Housing officers work with people from a variety of different backgrounds, many of whom may have recently experienced hardships such as job losses or homelessness. People living in social housing are often facing challenging times and it's essential that housing officers are sensitive to their tenants' needs and have empathy for the situations they're facing. Housing officers can consider problems from other people's perspectives and understand a wide range of views and beliefs to offer support and advice to people who may be very different from themselves.
Housing officers have strong organisational skills, which allow them to manage their busy schedules and meet deadlines on rent, maintenance and other property management concerns. Most housing officers work with many different tenants at one time, which requires that they prioritise their workload to manage multiple competing interests. Strong organisational skills are necessary to ensure that housing officers complete all of their tasks promptly.
Housing officers are capable of working well with others, both within a team of housing officers and with staff members from other departments. Housing officers work with staff members within their organisation plus with tenants to achieve common goals. Experience of working within a team may help applicants to demonstrate strong teamwork skills when applying for roles as housing officers.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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