Engaging with stakeholders
Our tenants are among our most important stakeholders and we have made a good deal of progress in terms of truly engaging and getting to know our tenants in recent years. Our target for 2019 was to achieve an overall score of 7.0. There are clear signs that the actions we have taken are having a positive impact. This was clear from the tenant satisfaction survey we conducted in 2019, covering topics such as the service level of the property managers, complaints and repair procedures, the quality of the properties and the living environment.
Last year, 1,923 tenants (39.5% of those asked to participate) responded to the survey. We improved our scores across the board, which resulted in an overall score from our tenants of 7.2. This put us 0.1 points above the IVBN benchmark on all the items included in the survey.
Once again, we will use the results of the survey to draw up improvement plans. These plans may be specific action plans for a single property or aimed at improving overall satisfaction. In addition, we communicate the outcome of the survey to our tenants, along with the specific actions we plan to take to improve service levels.
In 2019, we ran a pilot for a new tenant monitoring system with one of our property managers. This system records all the contact moments with our tenants and our response those interactions. The new client monitoring system gives both Bouwinvest and its property managers access to the same information. This system gives us a 360-degree client view, so we know what our tenants need, how we can optimise our services and what we need to do to respond proactively to our tenants’ wishes. We plan to roll out this new system across the entire portfolio in 2020.
Community and tenant engagement management
What do our tenants want? Are they happy to live in our homes? If they are happy now, will they continue to be happy in the future? A home is more than bricks and mortar. We are keen to hear from our tenants, to learn about their needs and requirements, for now and in the future. One of the ways we do this is by conducting targeted surveys on specific topics via our regular tenants’ panel, a panel of 1,700 residents who rent from Bouwinvest. The aim of these annual surveys is to gain insight into what is on their minds right now, but also what our (potential) tenants’ wishes are.
Last year, we conducted three surveys among the residents of delivered projects. These covered the likes of satisfaction with the rental process, delivery, home and living environment, services and facilities offered. In addition to a high response rate (on average 50%), these surveys generated about 200 new members for our tenants panel. All these surveys provided us with greater insight into the needs and wishes and dissatisfiers among our new tenants. We use the results to optimise our processes and products and this in turn helps us to create added value for home-seekers and tenants, and all our stakeholders.
Tenant surveys conducted in 2019:
Social contact and cohesion survey - willingness to participate or set up community events
Satisfaction survey among tenants of new developments on topics such as environment, complex, apartment, realtor, facilities
Sustainability improvements in the apartment and community
Interest in shared-mobility services
Our tenants expect more from us and our homes on a number of fronts, including quality, sustainability and affordability. And of course they also expect outstanding customer service. The surveys Bouwinvest has conducted into our tenants’ customer journey have given us a clear picture of how that journey feels and helped us identify a number of potential improvements. We have made the satisfaction of our tenants a major priority for the coming years, as an integral part of our wider ambition: to be more client-centric in our approach to all our stakeholders, to improve the quality and efficiency of our processes, to optimise our contacts with tenants and to take a more proactive approach to how we provide our services.
Our research shows that the ease with which tenants can deal with all their home-related matters is just as important as the home itself. This is why we have developed a tenant portal ‘Wonen bij Bouwinvest’ and the above-mentioned client monitoring system. Tenants can use this portal for everything, from repair requests to online payment and from changes in details to the filing of complaints, whenever and wherever they see fit.
These are all developments that make communications with our tenants more efficient and more effective, which we expect to improve tenant satisfaction. Of course, tenants will still be able to communicate with our property managers via traditional channels, as there is still a need for these channels, especially among our target group of elderly people.
Plan on enhance responsible business operations
In 2021 all our tenants can use our tenant portal incl. sustainability performance
On target. First pilot mid-2020
Green rental contracts
Following the residential team’s efforts to add a sustainable focus to the Fund’s standard lease contract in 2018, the team continued to roll out green rental contracts across the portfolio last year. As a part of our drive to continue to enhance our existing sustainability for the long term, we believe we need to address the ‘user effect’. By adding a separate appendix on the dos and don’ts in the use of our homes, we want to accelerate the realisation of our sustainability goals and ambitions. We strongly believe that engaging our tenants in our efforts to increase the sustainability of our portfolio will make us far more successful in the long run.
Plan on engage with stakeholders
Clients give the Fund a score higher than 7
Completed 2019 (7.8)
Tenants give the Fund a score higher than 7
Completed 2019 (7.2)
Start with green clauses in rental contracts for new buildings in 2019
237 green leases in place of 4,095 new contracts
Improving client services and communications
Real estate markets are remarkably dynamic, so Bouwinvest has to be responsive to internal and external news, as well as trends, risks and developments that could influence investments in Real estate markets. We are clear on our investment strategies and are dedicated to demonstrate our ability to meet or exceed our clients’ expectations, by offering investment opportunities, services and market data related to existing and potential new investments.
In 2019, we conducted a stakeholder survey, asking our main stakeholders, including our investors, how they view us in terms of what we are getting right and where we could make improvements. This survey provided us with a lot of valuable feedback. The survey showed that we are on the right track on ESG front, but we could improve our communications with our investors in terms of the progress we are making towards achieving our ESG ambitions. These, and other actions will help us to improve our client services and communications. Our ultimate goal is to achieve a steady long-term client satisfaction score of above 7.5 (out of 10).
One of the biggest risks we face right now is the overregulation of the housing market, as an increasing number of local authorities are taking action to increase the number of affordable homes in and around major urban centres. This is where our solid reputation will be a key success factor. For example, a good reputation among our stakeholders is essential for deal sourcing. For instance, when developers choose to sell to an investor their choice is often based on more than just the optimal purchase price. Most developers also appreciate our reliability, vigour and expertise. In this highly competitive market, it is very important that we continue to stand out in terms of deal security, as well as efficient and rapid (legal) structuring and decision making.
The same argument goes for the Dutch national government, local municipalities and housing corporations. Those stakeholders are keen to work with trustworthy partners that accept their social responsibility. Partners that want to help create future-proof, inclusive and liveable cities. This is why the Fund focuses on being a city partner, and tries to build reciprocal understanding between municipalities and institutional investors.
For example, last year the municipality of Delft and the Fund worked together to define an optimal mid-rental policy, while in the municipality of Utrecht we were closely involved in drafting the ‘City Agreement’ on the future housing market policy. The Fund hopes this approach will help us avoid excessive regulatory measures from local governments, which could severely weaken the residential investment climate. This is a two-way street, and national and local authorities, housing corporations, institutional investors and project developers need to work together and listen to each other. That is the only way we will be able to come up with a structural solution to the serious shortage of mid-market rental properties in urban areas.
We take an active approach to raising environmental, social and governance awareness throughout the real estate industry. We encourage our partners to enhance their sustainability performance. We focus on: health & safety at construction sites, active participation (memberships) in industry associations and community programmes. To further improve the climate for real estate investments, we are an active member of boards and committees of sector, industry and cross-disciplinary networks such as NEPROM, IVBN, Holland Metropole, DGBC, INREV and ULI.
The Residential Fund applies the Dutch Considerate Constructors Scheme (‘Bewuste Bouwer’) to almost one-third of new-build projects and redevelopments. This ensures that the contractors deal with the concerns of local residents and address safety and environmental issues during the construction phase.
% construction sites registered as considerate construction scheme
Bouwinvest was the first company in the Dutch real estate investment sector to contribute to the establishment of a national AED (automatic external defibrillator) network, which it is estimated could save up to 2,500 lives every year in the Netherlands. The use of an AED offers the highest probability of survival within the first six minutes after a heart attack. Last year, Bouwinvest was the first institutional investor in the Netherlands to be awarded the ‘HARTveilig’ (heart-safe) certification for its entire residential portfolio, following the installation of some 230 AEDs on the Fund’s homes and residential complexes. Bouwinvest is also planning to install AEDs at all new assets it adds to its portfolio. In late 2019, City AED reported the first use of one of the AEDs fitted in one of the Fund’s complexes.
Plans on sustainable stewardship
In 2020, 75% of construction sites (€) registered under Considerate Constructors Scheme (‘Bewuste Bouwer’)
38% of construction sites are registered. 3, out of 12 acquisitions in 2019 have contractually agreed to register.
Gain board seats and committee memberships industry organisations: have at least one active board/committee memberships within industry organisations in the Dutch residential sector sector
Bouwinvest's employees have several active positions on boards or working groups of the networking and industry organisations like: IVBN, INREV, ULI, DGBC, Holland Metropole and NEPROM.
4 positions are explicitly related to the residential sector.
Make areas heart safe: By the end of 2021, our tenants have an AED available within six minutes walking distance
100% of our tenants have an AED available within six minutes walking distance