A Place To Call Home: by Anushree Chokappa

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Anushree Chokappa M.Des. Design Innovation & Service Design Thesis Project Journal Aug 2022 A ToPlaceCall Home

This personal journal is a walk-through of my thesis proposal titled, “A Place To Call Home”. I describe the design process I followed to explore the context of accessing private rented housing, frame impactful insights, explore concepts and develop a proposal that presents opportunities for the current scenario in Scotland. Throughout the document I also reflect upon the decisions made, challenges faced, key learnings, and takeaways for future projects. Document brief A co-design approach to improve upon services in Scotland’s private rented sector, designing systems-level proposals to transform renting for vulnerable tenants.

Contents My process was based on “The Four Planets of Design”, a concept by Adam Becker and Brie Anne Demkiw. The final stage “Listen” appealed to me as it signified continuous 080706050404development. 29282726242322212018171615141312111009Acknowledgements Acknowledging tutors Acknowledging peers My positionality Project brief MethodologyContext & approach Key Definitions Desk research Setting the context Growth of the PRS Initial research question Framing the inquiry Mapping resources Cause & Effect map Personal reflection Primary research Framing the inquiry Mapping Designingstakeholdersengagement tools Expert PersonalInterviewsreflection Data analysis Analysis methods chosen TheClusteringCodingrenting lifecycle The game of renting Framing PersonalinsightsreflectionWeek1 - 5Design process INTRODUCTION DISCOVER

716650474645444342393837363533323130 64636261605856555454535251 ReferencesAppendices Focused research & analysis Broken and biased system The nuances of discrimination Insights to opportunities The design challenge The disadvantaged tenants Faces of the PRS Further interviews The rental application journey Personal reflection Co-design workshop planning Provocative artefacts Future world building Concept generation Framing the ideation Workshop design Trial PersonalActualworkshopworkshopreflection Delivering a design proposal Forming the proposal Summary of proposal Fair Housing Opportunity Scheme Policy PersonalImpactFunding,PrototypingSystemsServiceServiceNewFeedbackrecommendationsfromexpertsuserjourneystoryboardblueprintmaptouchpointsWiderimpactassessmentreflection Week 6 - 8 Week 9 - 13 HYPOTHESISE DELIVER & LISTEN

Other peers contributed their time in note-taking during presentations, providing general feedback and at different stages. I would particularly like to mention Drew Ewen, Juhi Mota, Mariana Acosta Morales, and Rob Capelle-Burny.

Acknowledging tutors Acknowledging peers



This project is an outcome of combined guidance from several internal and external tutors. Dr.Iain Reid was my primary tutor whose valuable inputs shaped my progress throughout the three months. Other GSA tutors who provided one-on-one feedback were Elio Caccavale, Dr.Emma Murphy, Lydia Stewart and Dr.Michael Johnson. External advisors included Alice Gordon (Service Designer) from the Scottish Government, and Desmond Phee (Corporate Compliance Officer) from Southside Housing Association. I was also enrolled in a 2 session mentorship program by Livework, and received feedback from Service Designers Audra Reagan, John Foley, Signe Bek and Suzy Hogg. Collectively I was able to learn from their professional experience to challenge and grow my design practice.

I am also grateful for the continuous support of my peers. Emese Stork, Jungtiao Liu, Keiko Okura, and Shona Barrett were part of my assigned peer group that discussed our projects in detail over 2 sessions. Charvi Upadhye was extremely helpful in assisting me with my workshop, and I built a working relationship with Allison Palum who also took up a project on housing. Harsha, Joan Cherian, Sayandhana Nayar, Sharanya Sribabu and Yashika enthusiastically took part in my trial workshop and provided feedback.


My objective was to look at housing in the international human rights context. However, I struggled to toggle between the role of a designer looking to empathise with those impacted, and an activist hoping to deliver social justice to tenants such as me. Once I identified that I could maintain an objective position as a facilitator of innovation, I found it easier to bring autoethnography into my design process. It helped me appreciate my own experiences as an immigrant who has chosen a new country to be her home, and see how it could instead add value to my project. My positionality My



When I began this project, I was keen on exploring rented housing within the context of the Scottish Government and society, and expanding my knowledge of Scotland’s history and politics as a devolved nation. I was aware that as an international student looking for a rented house during the project, my judgement could be influenced by personal experience. A conversation with Alice Gordon (Senior Service Designer, Scottish Government) removed hesitation I had about bringing myself into the project. She said, “Don’t take for granted your own experience if you know first hand that something is happening. As a designer you are empowered by the way you can challenge these ideas and see the interconnectedness of things.”


Context “Making adequate housing accessible to those entitled to it.”


Scotland’s private rented sector is characterised by a lack of regulation and high competition. Discrmination in the form of landlord screening criteria, triggered by personal bias or surrounding imbalanced legislation, has resulted in tenants being routinely being denied the right to adequate housing. It has driven our community’s most vulnerable into the current housing emergency, with many struggling to access a home that supports their needs and nurtures their wellbeing.

Project brief

It introduces the “Fair Housing Allocation Scheme” to protect tenants’ basic right to housing. It regulates the screening process of landlords and letting agents by making it mandatory to make rental applications through a government approved third party. The scheme and recommended policy changes aim to tackle discriminatory practices at a systemic level, through a care and social justice based approach.

My proposal is an inclusive housing strategy that enables fair opportunity for disadvantaged tenants to access an adequate rented home in Scotland.

CONTEXT METHODS THEORY Following the Research Trio framework

7 Learning through lived experience Users as active participants PHENOMENOLOGYlensesPersonalApproachMethodology SERVICE SYSTEMS+DESIGNPLAYFUL,GAMEBASED JUSTICESOCIALCO-DESIGNPUBLICPOLICYDESIGN Aims and expectations: I hoped to be bold with my concepts and take risks to envision transformative change at a systemic level. My aim being to deliver social justice while bringing my playful personality into the project. Methodology & approach Project brief


“Adequate housing must be accessible to those entitled to it. Disadvantaged groups must be accorded full and sustainable access to adequate housing resources.

A private landlord is someone who owns a house, building, or property and rents it out to other people. A Tenant is a legal occupier of a house or property, and has the exclusive possession for a period of time and pays rent to the property landlord.

Key Sector (PRS) Social Housing Sector


Social AdequateLandlordHousing (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) Private Landlord Tenant IMG: www.jrf.org.uk/

Letting agents are responsible for managing properties on behalf of private property landlords.

Letting Agent

Local councils and housing associations that own and manage social housing.

A form of housing supported by the government to provide housing at affordable rents for people in need.

PRS is a classification of housing in the UK. It is property owned by a landlord and leased to a tenant.

Both housing law and policy should take fully into account the special housing needs of these groups”


Three most common forms of occupancy in Scotland:

Setting the context Introducing Generation Rent: The term given to the growing number of young adults (upto the age of 40) who are renting their homes for longer periods of their lives than their parents’ generation.

IMG: www.edinburghlive.co.uk/ research


Desk research


Historically, the Private Rented Sector (PRS) was meant to meet short term housing needs. It was never promoted as a medium to long-term housing solution, especially for low income households. Hence it is an unregulated space characterised as having much greater problems of affordability, insecure tenancies, lower property and management standards, and greater instability.

10 (Glasgow Local Housing Strategy 2017-22, 2017) Growth of the PRS and constraints Glasgow tenures over the last 50 years Growth of the PRS Discover

Understandingstart.the causes of instability and insecurity in the PRS in AssessingScotland.theimpact of a sense of home on personal well being, and the wider context of housing sustainability. Initial research question

Desk research


I began my research with the followingResearchintent:Question:

Situating my project: The intricacies of Generation Rent are situated within the wider landscape of housing, wellbeing and sustainability. Understanding these levels of impact was a useful framework for me to remember where worthwhile opportunities lie. It made the goals of the project clear from the

“Understand barriers to resilience & stability in the Private Rented Sector in Scotland, through lived experiences.”

Explore different roles that form the system Learn from the social housing sector



Define contributors to the current housing crisis


12 Learning objectives: These objectives were framed based on the “Research Funnel” framework developed by Emma Boulton. It helped funnel down research efforts from broad to more optimised.

Explore policies that bring regulation in rented housing

Clarifying research objectives and identifying sources early on helped in defining a research scope. Mapping sources across this spectrum enabled me to see the breadth of resources that were available, and the weightage I gave to each type. the inquiry Desk research sources

TacticalStrategicExploratoryImmersive Understand the housing landscape in Scotland

13 Scottish policy reforms Growth of PRS Tenant experiences Tenant activism History of housing Politics of housing Future StrategicMeasuringCurrentFrameworkNationalRentalBusinessEthicalImpactHousingopportunitiestimelineofCOVID-19considerationsofhousingmarketPerformanceregulationimpactaims consequencesUnintended of laws Topical news Social Environmentalimpact impact Fair DiscriminationGlobalChallengesHousinghousingjusticeofPRSscenario In order to immerse myself in the big picture, I followed the STEEPLE (Social, Technological, Environmental, Economical, Political, Legal, Ethical) framework to consider the impact of a wide range of societal factors on the PRS. Through a range of sources, I was collectively able to collect and evidence my findings. Mapping resources Academic papers, case studies GovernmentPodcastsBooksreports Desk research

14 Desk research phase was a continuous, circular process of research, sketching and analysis. Analysing causality was the first approach I took to visualise the challenge and gain a better command of the topic. Cause & Effect map SITUATIONCURRENT Trouble Poorlandlordswithpropertymanagementstandards tenanciesInsecure Inaffordability High competition GrowthpreferencesLandlordofAirbnb Lack of regulation GlobalcrisisfinancialHousepriceinflationBuy to mortgagesLet Barriers to home loans Low supply of social housingSocialstigmahousing Accidentallandlords Right to Buy Act Risks homelessnessofGame of luck Poorofqualitylife treatmentUnfair segregationSocial Rising rents DiscriminationPoorwellbeing Children DesperationpovertyininhousehuntingMoreadultspoor immaturemarketrental“landlordism” short rentalstermgrow Low quality of homes Noforconfidencetenants InstabilityEFFECTSCAUSES Discover

Challenges and notes for the future:


I’ll admit I could have managed my time better if I had framed a narrower scoping statement to start with. Speaking with our tutor Lydia helped realise that I had chosen a wide area within a big problem to tackle within 3 months.

Personal reflection Desk research

I approached the new topic of housing within a Scottish context with an fresh eyes. My intention was to look at the data with an open mind, keen to learn, and not as a designer looking for problems (which we, especially as service designers are commonly accused of). I’m pleased I managed that, because it allowed me to immerse myself into a new subject even though it was time consuming. What was also valuable was doing research about various research and design methods. Stopping to think and reflect on my process, and analyse data constantly during research expanded the capabilities of my project.

Another shortcoming was choosing this topic very close to the start of Stage 3. With enough prior research I could have gotten a headstart on a focus area. For future projects I wish to make better use of research frameworks and tools to communicate research findings throughout the process.

16 Primary research My outreach plan was to conduct research with the different roles that exist within the housing system:Define priorities, processes expectations during interactions with housing providers Learning objectives: Potential interviewees: It was interesting to learn that besides the primary roles involved in renting (tenants, owners, agents), there are several individuals and organisations that have the Framing the inquiry OperationalTacticalStrategicExploratory Explore tenants’ aspirations of home and belonging Learn from tenant and landlord experiences during the lifecycle of renting Explore tenant motivations for renting Explore landlord and letting agent incentives Explore ethics of housing providers, influencersMACROMICROTENANTS LANDLORDS INTERMEDIARIES SUBJECT EXPERTS Policy makers, academics, frontline housing providers Letting agents, regulatory & dispute resolution Primary service users impacted power to influence decisions and policy. The tenants I spoke to were from a range of age groups, nationality, ethnicity and employment type. Discover

17 INFLUENCEOFPOWERLOWHIGHMID It was helpful to hear their individual perspectives on the same topic, and gain a holistic understanding from the point of view of all parties involved. I reached out to them through networking at events, online community groups and through personal connections. Private tenants x12 Private landlord Letting (tenantsGeneration(tenantsLivingagentsRentunion)Rentactivists) Dr. Adriana Mihaela Soaita UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) Policy Lab: UK OffCoLab:GovernmentHomeiceDigital,DataandTechnology Community ShelterHomelessnessPractitionerLinksservicesScotland SUBJECT EXPERTS (LIVED EXPERIENCE) SUBJECT EXPERTS (WORK/ RESEARCH )INTERMEDIARIESGATEKEEPERS/ FRONT-LINESERVICESHOUSING Local council Social tenant Social Southsidelandlord:HousingAssociation IndividualscommunityGarnethill Organisations Unable to speak to Mapping stakeholders Primary research

Designing engagement tools

Learning goals Main questions Discover

What does ‘home’ mean to you? Through feelings, things, anecdotes, memories. How do you approach looking for homes? Do you have landlord horror stories? What was your process of application and securing your home? What would you like to change?


In order to creatively interact with tenants, I designed a number of visual and metaphorical engagement tools, in syn with my research intent.

Tool #1: Visually represent idea of “putting down roots”. The leaves above signify abstract aspirations of home and roots below are what makes those tangible. Tool #2: Building a sort of empathy map (what they think, feel, say and do) of the expectations and reality during the circular renting journey. Explore surrounding factors that make a rented house a home. Empathise with tenants during every stage of the renting lifecycle. Priorities while renting. Hopes and fears, motivations to rent.

Relationship dynamics between tenants and their landlords


Gaps between expectations and reality of personal Personalitiesexperiences.oflandlords based on their level of care towards tenants. Circumstances under which tenants are driven into renting Set expectations for participants, and kept them engaged during the interview. Highlighted power imbalance between tenants and landlords/ agents Revealed discriminatory practices in tenant selection criteria

Tool #3: The metaphor of modern dating (relationship with house/ landlord). Using prompts found on apps to set expectations and preferences for homes. How renting is a game of luck. Motivation to put their best foot forward.

Opportunity to build a more, trusting, caring, tenant focused environment

Key learnings Outcomes

Primary research

Social landlord: Desmond CorporatePheeCompliance Officer, Southside Housing Association


Tenants and landlords are two sides of the same coin. I spoke with a social and private landlord to take other stakeholders’ perspectives into consideration. It was necessary to learn about and design for the various factors that influence the housing system.

“The It the



Private landlord: Professional renting business for over 20 years Expert Interviews

“We have restrictions from our insurance policies. Our process might seem unfair, but some applicants are not aware of the prerequirements. We face a lot of trouble with tenants lying on their application. I get back in touch with the easiest person that makes contact.”



Challenges and notes for the future: Once I joined Living Rent as a member of the union in order to participate with them, I struggled with remaining unbiased towards tenants. It took some feedback and reflection to learn how to let it enriched my process while also considering other stakeholders.


A huge benefit to this project was the network of individuals and organisations that contributed their opinions. MY classmate Rob learnt of The Gathering event through which I met a Community Links Practitioner who connected me with a representative from Homelessness Services. I similarly got in touch with other stakeholders for my project through my personal experience of looking for a house, and connections from tutors. (Desmond Phee was a friend of Iain). I’m grateful to all of them. Sometimes it takes a nudge, but I’m convinced that “if you never ask, you’ll never know.” I was keen on using a game based approach to lighten the complexities of the topic, and creating bespoke engagement tools proved appropriate for the situation and project. Upon feedback by Livework mentors I developed those into a standard process to make data analysis more efficient.

Acknowledging and constantly reminding myself of my positionality and role could have been beneficial in being objective.

“Conversation for a Card” engagement idea that was not implemented. Personal reflection

Primary research

22 Data analysis My refined research question at the start of analysis: “What are the barriers to resilience & stability in the Private Rented Sector in Scotland?” Analysis methods followed: These various methods summarised key points and served as an evidence base to develop insights. Compare expectations of tenants with the reality of the experience during their rental journey Identify different types of tenants and their individual aspirations My intention: Analysis methods chosen Discover



25 Synthesis of a rather messy process on Miro Data analysis

By mapping the emerging themes across the renting lifecycle, I was able to visualise experiences and expectations. I chose a focus and framed insights specific to the chosen stage of “Looking for a house”, as research indicated it was the most difficult and stressful stage. The renting lifecycle



27 A recurring theme during looking for a house was the uncertainty and amount of luck that tenants referred to. Lack of regulation Academic, government reports, expert interviews, news articles Gap analysis: Expectation vs reality Tenant interviews Uncertainty while looking for a house Tenant interviews, lived experience reports Unfair tenant screening criteria Tenant interviews, lived experience reports, online adverts, news articles Discrimination in allocation Tenant interviews, lived experience reports, case studies beats capability & confidence, in the game of renting.PERCEIVEDLUCK DISCRIMINATION is a consequence of unsuccessful attempts & desperation. Evolution of topics: Evidenced by: The game of renting IMG. CanStockPhoto.com “The uncertainty of renting, & our quest for home & belonging.” Data analysis

28 These key insights informed the next stages of research and analysis: Framing insights Discover

During analysis, I was still exploring a broad data set, so a combination of methods helped me narrow down my focus and frame specific insights. When multiple challenges and opportunities emerged, I found it tough to apply filters to choose a direction. Sessions by tutors and the Livework mentors were a good playground to discuss questions I had around my practice.

John mentioned a term called “fringe-fetish” where we pay extra attention to those marginalised. While the term sounds negative, I believe the approach works in a lot of situations like my project.

Data analysis

Personal reflection

Challenges and notes for the future: Are finding patterns as important as recognising unique stories? I learnt that analysis should have a clear intent but not look for solutions. Anomalies appear especially in qualitative data, and how we respond to them matters based on our objectives. I would clarify the goals of the research and use those as a framework for analysis.

IMG. Review presentation


30 Focused research & analysis Discrimination1 in private renting was a hypothesis that I decided to challenge through further desk research and interviews. Shelter Scotland reports2 that these groups are more likely to experience discrimination: Black & Asian Disabled Earning under £20,000 a year 5x 1/10 7% 1 Discriminatory practices are increasingly difficult to address, either because they are legalised (see for example Leahy et al. (2018) on the Right to Rent in England), digitalised (see for example Preece et al., 2020), or difficult to separate from landlord discretion (Maalsen et al., 2021). 2 Butler, 2021 3 Scottish Housing News, 2021 Alison Watson, Shelter Scotland director Broken and biased system “Scotland’s housing system is broken and biased. It is failing people. Hundreds of thousands of people are being held back by the lack of a proper home that would support them to flourish.” Hypothesise

Focused research & analysis

--- ---

What I inferred was that discrimination is never intended. The sector is leaning more towards mitigating/ avoiding financial risks (Preece et al., 2020), and owners want to protect their own interests by choosing tenants who minimise management problems & protect their rental income streams through long term tenures.

The nuances of discrimination

Interviews with tenants and housing providers, observations from rental advertisements and desk research presented evidence for 3 kinds of discrimination and their causes: Direct discrimination by landlords personal biases concerns of affordability and social conduct, stigma over source of income (benefits etc.)

Indirect discrimination systemic factors that could put landlords at risk, and multiple organisations that they may be liable to. insurance policies that prevent using housing benefits as a source of income, / don’t cover damage to contents by pets

Perceived discrimination by tenants lack of regulation and transparency screening criteria that tenants never see, and reasons for rejection they never know. no follow up on unsuccessful apllications

IMG. www.thenegotiator.co.uk

Insights opportunitiesto My contribution as a designer: The system needs care, & its people need empathy. My stance as an activist: Fair opportunity, equal outcomes. Challenge statement: Opportunity spaces identified: The design challenge HousingFairTRANSPARENCY:opportunityasaHuman Right Regulation around discrimination Confidence in building a home AGENTS AS REGULATORS: Impartial third party Trusting, accountable relations Balancing rights & responsibilities Home as a shared resource “Explore ways in which the Private Rented Sector can support tenants who are disadvantaged in the housing system, through fair and equitable access to existing homes.” 21 Hypothesise

So who are the tenants most impacted?

Moving from accommodation/studentfixed term tenancy to the rented sector. Moving to the city/ neighbourhood for work/ family/ other temporary or permanent reasons

The disadvantaged tenants

Urgent: separation from partner, family/ protection from abuse Legal/ no fault eviction from previous Changinghomespacial needs: on medical advice/ for children - flexible tenancies - support paying rent from parents - affordability: to save - remote viewing and application - affordability: home ownership aspirations/ downsizing/ saving - flexible tenancies/ short term lets - temporary/ permanent roof over their head - housing support to pay rent - affordability - temporary/ permanent shelter - quality environment that suits their requirements - house structure based on needs

Behavioural archetypes were initially created for tenants & landlords. (See Appendix A)

Insights to opportunities


I created an archetype template based on an individual’s motivations to look for a rented house, and influences that make them vulnerable. A combination of these produces a tenant archetype. It was appropriate to create these around demographics as opposed to behaviours, because that’s the very information they are judged upon. This structure was inspired by a report on DLUHC Mid Rise Remediation Scheme shared by Alice Gordon, for Thoughtworks.

Motivations to rent Potential needs

34 Also covered in this list are the protected characteristics from the Equality Act 2010. Archetypes are formed in detail in the next chapter. Marriage/Age requirementsMedicalOwningunemploymentLowReligion/partnershipcivilbeliefincome/apet MOTIVATIONSTORENT VULNERABLEINFLUENCES ARCHETYPETENANT+ = Physical/ mental disabilityHousingusageSmoking/childrenstatus/Family/SexmaternityPregnancy/relationshipdependentdrugbenefits reassignmentGenderRace/ ethnicity historyCriminalStudentstatusrefugee/Immigration/orientationSexualasylumstatusrecord Vulnerable influences Hypothesise

35 Faces of the PRS IMG. from various news articles across Scotland Insights to opportunities


I spoke with front-line housing providers from the social sector to learn what they think of fair housing and ways to tackle discrimination.


“I think that there is a missed opportunity here. It would be interesting to see a similar sort of open and transparent Choice Based Lettings system where the PRS would have a similar service that is accessible for everybody. Financial implications will need to be considered so its more achievable and sustainable for landlords as well.

Further interviews - A Community Links Practitioner A Homelessness Services representative

“Social landlords have to have very clear processes as to why someone has been prioritised over somebody else. You don’t have that in the PRS. There is assumptions and stigma attached to bias, also some truth around certain groups. But we’ve all got backgrounds and lived experiences.“Fair” would mean having a standardised process.”

37 The current house hunting process of sending applications and two major phases of uncertainty: The rental application journey Insights to opportunities

Personal reflection

The more experts I spoke with, the more other opportunities opened up, that were not directly linked to my focus area. But they were all worthwhile ideas to consider and I doubted the value of my chosen concepts. It would have been a good idea to speak to experts about their field of work early on, so I could broaden my perspective, and then reach out to them for insight and feedback at later stages. It helped to remind myself of my scope and objectives for the sake of this 3 month thesis.

Developing & mapping archetypes


Challenges and notes for the future:

I spent quite some time developing archetypes. Learning that they are not mutually exclusive categories was an interesting idea to work with as there were a number of possibilities that could emerge on combining motivations with influences. It was far more useful than a fixed set of personas, in covering a range of individuals’ needs.


Co-design workshop planning

Co-design workshop planning Sources of Matchmakinginspiration:analogy


Provocative artefacts

Property market dating profile artefactsProfile inspiration from www.blog.photofeeler.com

I made early on in the project. Research report published by the UK Home Office as part of the Right to Rent evaluation. The researchers developed three renter scenarios to provide a range of experiences with which to test the possibility of discrimination arising as a result of the right to rent scheme. (Long and Cooke, 2015) I built tenant profiles that were visually similar to dating profiles commonly seen on apps. They were based on the persona archetypes created, and a key feature of each of them was the circumstances and characteristics that made them vulnerable to exclusion. I decided to use them as provocative artefacts/ ‘provotypes’ in a co-design workshop, to start a conversation around tenant selection criteria.

40 Property market dating profile artefacts Hypothesise

41 Co-design workshop planning

Future world building Hypothesise

competition is high and decisions take place behind closed doors, desperate to move into any home that accepts them. practices are regulated through transparent application empoweredprocesses,byknowledge of selection criteria, and feedback on applications from viewing to finalising. Agents regulate the landlord-tenant relationship as an impartial third party, Cared for, through more power, rights and tenant focused Anonymouspolicy.profiles aim to minimise bias and provide fair Givenopportunity,thechance to prove they are good candidates through their past rental experience or references.


42 For this exercise, I referred to an article written by Speculative Futures Rotterdam. It takes colloquial sentences that start with “In a world where…” and puts the user through a constrained brainstorming exercise (Joshi, 2021). It helped me frame the world of renting that currently exists, and explore possibilities for future worlds. In a current world where… In a future world where… In a future world where… In a future world where…321 Tenants Exploringare...fair access to housing: Tenants are... Tenants are... Tenants are...


43 I generated 3 concepts based on the future worlds created. Concept generation Co-design workshop planning

To encourage participation from the primary people impacted by the housing situation, I planned to conduct a co-design workshop with tenants.


Larger goal of the workshop: Hear opinions on this one question- What does “Fair Access to Housing” mean to you? I was certain that I would hear different answers, and it would be difficult to come up with an objective definition for what ‘fair’ should mean in the context of housing allocations.

Who I reached out to: Online communities , Living Rent (joined as a branch member and introduced workshop at their monthly meeting.) My role as a designer: Facilitator to guide the conversation and prompt where needed + actively participate as a character in the fictional world.

Framing the ideation

Posters created for outreach


The provotype and concepts from the world building exercise were incorporated into the design of the workshop. Total time : 1 hour. Workshop design and learning objectives:


On what basis would you make that decision collectively and individually? How would you like to access a rented home in a fair way? What rules and laws would you introduce?

Show and describe your house keys to the group. What does “Home” mean to you?

Who would you rather give your house to?

(Here I would also present my concepts and hear opinions.)


10 min 15 min 15 min 20 min Role: Tenant Role: Collectively a landlord Role: Tenant (with govt. powers) workshop planning


Collaborative conversation: Empathise with diverse needs of tenants.

Draw/ write individually, Show & tell: Imagine an ideal world where the system is caring enables fair access to rented homes There is only one desirable private rented property available. How would you defend your character and prove that you deserve the house?

Discuss, merge or split ideas. Summarise “Fair Access to Housing” possibilities.


Learn what biases might come up and how tenants might compensate for their circumstances through negotiation.

Collaborative conversation: Explore fair decision making tools. Understand why landlords have preferences that might encourage bias.

Show & tell: Explore the meanings on home and belonging.


Trial workshop workshop


Photos from the trial

- Introduced the character of a landlord with characteristics and background information, to help tenants understand ways in which they might negotiate.

To understand and test how the workshop would take place in real life, I conducted a trial workshop with my neighbours. It was definitely a restricted demographic with all Indian students who were in the very real scenario of struggling to secure a rented home. However, it was helpful to watch the interactions play out and they provided valuable feedback on the process.

- Introduced features of the property, as a character to get a better sense of the scenario.

Changes made after trial workshop:

- Focused the brainstorming to ‘fair access’ and provided my own concepts as prompts.


The day of the actual workshop was one of challenges and learning to adapt. I had only one participant from Living Rent confirm, and I hoped for some others to turn up, but that was not the case. So I ended up conducting the workshop in two phases on the same dayPhase 1: I requested 4 people I met at the cafe (that was decided for the workshop) to join us for 15 minutes. I picked the most important activities of the workshop- ‘Survival’ and ‘In an ideal world’ and went through them at a fast pace. In those 15 minutes I got to hear a good range of opinions and ideas.

Actual workshop Photos from the actual workshop workshop planning


Participants: (2 female: mid 30s, 2 female: mid 40s, 1 male: mid 30s) Phase 2: I spent 40 minutes engaging deeply with the participant from Living Rent, and my classmate Charvi (who assisted me with the workshop, and was requested to be an active participant). We went through all different phases of the workshop from the beginning, focusing more on ‘In an ideal world’ where we discussed each of our ideas and commented on my 3 concepts. The concepts here served as provocative artefacts, and was the main subject of our ideation.

48 Photos from the actual workshop


Building on the metaphor of matchmaking to create tenant profiles worked out well, strategically. Through these numerous methods I was able to explore and present a good conceptual trajectory that led to a proposal.

Challenges and notes for the future: As part of a true co-design process, I could have involved potential users from the start, so they would feel like active participants. I also could have sent a formal invite link, or made different efforts to reach out. I’m grateful that Charvi pushed me to request people to join, and I’m lucky that it was planned at a cafe where people gather. I want to always keep in mind to not have an extractive relationship with interviewees or participants, and share progress on my project so they know that their contribution is valuable.


“The questions you ask determine the reality you create”. I was pleased with the workshop plan that was created, and the questions addressed through each phase. Participants at the trial workshop actively participated in discussion and it was an enjoyable, insightful session for all. The speculative world building exercise was also a helpful tool for ideation. I reached out to a Dungeons and Dragons gaming group (world building based) to involve them in an exercise, but decided against it once my project evolved. I wanted to use game elements where appropriate, without forcing it.

Personal reflection Hypothesise

Criticism: Opportunities: Forming the proposal

A chance to introduce professionalism and put an end to amateurism.

Inspiration from intermediaries/ regulators that exist in the current housing landscape.


Current power structure would not incentivise agents to favour tenants over Flowlandlords.ofmoney and hierarchy of employment has become the norm. Involving agents would add another layer of bureaucracy.

An feasible opportunity lay in proposing the formation of an independent body to screen housing applications- Similar to the government approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Transformative policies that shift the consumer-supplier power imbalance. An independent body to take over the proposed role, instead of agents .

Delivering a design proposal

From the conversations I had with housing providers, and the ideas that emerged from the workshop, this concept showed potential for impact at a systemic level. It had the least implementation challenges, tackling lack of regulation through involving a third party.

The proposal needs to be looked at more pragmatically.

Selected concept:

Delivering a design proposal

“Letting agents as regulators”


Providing the opportunity for applicants with varied circumstances to present themselves as responsible tenants. Transparency in process so tenants can view the status of their own as well as others’ applications. of practices by a third party to ensure good conduct by both landlords and tenants. systemic housing barriers that trigger discrimination & bias recommendations enables opportunity for tenants to access an rented home in


independent, impartial, government approved 3rd partyexecuteScottish Fair



Scotland.” Deliver & Listen



The Tacklingstrategy:discrimination: Summary of proposal “An inclusive housing strategy that


Forum Regulate

Set up an Housing screening process through an Opportunity-Based approach Fair Housing Opportunity Scheme


The scheme makes it mandatory to make rental applications the Fair Housing




Fair Housing Opportunity Scheme

Opportunity Scheme Agent House

Delivering a design proposal

53 Transparent applications

adequate housing

Forum Tenant

HousingScottishLandlordFairForum Housing

“Making accessible to those entitled to it.”


Tenant profile/ Online application: the Opportunity-Based approach ensures tenants are given a chance to present vulnerable circumstances or provide evidence of being responsible tenants.

54 Wider policy recommendations made by tenants and landlords: Incremental taxation of small amateur or ‘accidental’ landlords up to a nominal limit of 5 properties Professionalisation of the PRS through a registration scheme Add more protected characteristics to the Equality Act 2010- such as low income, student status, benefits, family status Ban on “No DSS” policies Ban on tenant criteria Insurance policies to cover home & contents so pets are not restricted. Develop a code of professional standards for landlords Rent control in rent pressure zones Consultation with tenants for rent increases Policy recommendations I shared a working draft of my proposal and received written feedback from landlords and housing associations. The proposal went through considerable amount of evolution based on their inputs. For initial objectives and policies (See Appendix B). For feedback received (See Appendix C). Feedback from experts Deliver & Listen

55 Highlighting key moments that tackle uncertainty in the process. New user journey Option to get a priority stamp One time upload & vetting Visible: no. of slots available Application closes after all viewings. Informed: closing date Follow ups on application & reasons for not being selected All applicants given chance to view Selects vulnerable circumstances if applicable: urgency Can apply for viewings during the document vetting process Sees the number of applicants and their priority stamps Sees the number of applicants and their priority stamps, based on time of initial viewing application Selected: Accept & sign tenancy Not selected: Sees the applicant that was successful, with reasons Decides if house is suitable to apply for renting. Create profile654321 Upload documents Apply to view Apply to Feedback:rentsuccessful/ unsuccessful Schedule & view User chooses to rent a house based on a number of motivations/ circumstances. Eg. Urgent need: separation from partner, & currently staying at a friend’s place Feedback: successful/ Delivering a design proposal

56 Deliver & Listen Service storyboard A simple storyboard created to elaborate on the user journey.

57 Delivering a design proposal

58 Service blueprint Urgent: Separation from withcurrentlypartner,stayingfriend Line of PrimaryBackstageinteractionuseractions - Starts document vetting process - Verifies priority stamp request - Tenant name now -visibleConducts viewings - Informs when rent application closesviewingsScheduleswith all (limitedapplicantsno.) - Creates profile-stamp:-documentsUploadsRequestspriorityurgencyNameishidden - Applies to view - Sees no. priorityapplicants,ofstamps - Schedules viewing - Views & decides to apply Intake CATALYST PARTY3rdLANDLORDTENANT SIGN UP VIEWING APPLICATION Apply to viewProfile Schedule & view A map detailing out the actions at each stage, visualising touchpoints and relationships. Identifying actions at each stage helped address gaps in interaction, to enable a seamless experience for the primary user: the tenant Deliver & Listen

59verificationdocumentCompletesfor all if-applicantsProvidessupportnecessary - Ends process with landlord - Sends follow up with reasons and applicantstoapplicantchosendetails,unsuccessful - Sends contract to top applicationinitialthen(basedapplicantonpriority,bytimeofviewingapplicantinform-depositcontract,verified,Documentssignscollects(Ifnotverifiable,nextonlist) - End process with Scottish Fair Housing ForumrelationshipBegin with tenant - Applies to rent - Signs contract - (if not chosen, views position on waiting list) - Pays deposit - Secures house - (if applicantandupreceivesunsuccessful,followonreasons,viewschosendetails) - Builds their home - Confidence in process FEEDBACK IMPACTRENT APPLICATION Apply to rent Secure houseAccept tenancy HomeFollow up Delivering a design proposal

60 Clarifying roles and value exchange in the service delivery model. Systems map Frontstage Tenant Landlord Agent Scottish Fair HousingcircumstancesVulnerableApplyForumtorent?Selected?YES YES SUCCESSFULFEEDBACK: UNSUCCESSFULFEEDBACK: NO TimePriorityNObased profileCreate documentsUpload Backstage VERIFY VERIFY Deliver & Listen

61 A wireframe visualising the standard digital tool . Tenant profile Application status Fair opportunity through Priority Stamps, by presenting personal circumstances. Up-to-date information about the status of individual applications made. Option to add background or previous renting experience to support application. Transparency about number of other applicants and priority stamps. Prototyping touchpoints Delivering a design proposal ANON YMOUS APPLICAN T (Name hidden ) Tenant Pr ofil e Add renting re ference s Apply for priority stam p Disability requirement Urgency: various reasons Medical requiremen t Time spent applyin g 30, GEORGE S T ALL APPLICA NTS PRIOR ITY Rental A pplication s Applicant ApplicantID #469 4 Applicant #832 7 Applicant #9304 Applicant #294 7 Applicant #124 8 21.8 / 08:30 21.8 / 10:16 21.8 / 11:32 22.8 / 14:06 22.8 / 18:47

62 Deliver & ExpertsListenmentioned that funding would be key to this proposal. Possible routes for combined funding: Annual fee payable by registered (saysmallIncrementallandlordstaxesonlandlordsforupto5)properties Incremental taxes on Airbnb & short term let owners that contribute to the housing crisis Partnerships like the Improvement Hub (ihub), GovernmentFundingImprovementHealthcareScotlandbyScottish Funding opportunity Wider impact Funding for setting up the Scottish Fair Housing Forum & implementing the Fair Housing Opportunity Scheme The ripple effect of providing fair & equitable access to a home is felt across the steps towards wellbeing and sustainable development.

- Improved wellbeing through a system built on care and empathy.

- Logistics of implementation is heavy and requires full digital transformation.

Overall limitations: Impact assessment

- Towards a more mature private market as seen in many European countries.


- Not judged/ denied housing based on their circumstances.

- Bringing back the joy of looking for a new home.

- Greater understanding of their unmet needs.

- Ability of the market to sustain itself through downturns in a cycle.

Inclusive Housing strategy for the Private Rented Sector

- Digital only process itself risks discriminating unconsciously towards older people or the digitally -excluded.Managing multiple applications by one body can be -cumbersome.Challengeof getting a large number of private landlords to agree to a broad policy.

- Government would be hesitant to regulate a system they have contributed to.

Value for tenants:

- Protection of their Right to Adequate Housing.

- Governments have better access to information to update the Fair Rent database to make better evidence based policy decisions.

- Less speculation and more regulation is a better long term investment.

- Professionalisation can improve reputation of -practice.Removes the burden of document and affordability checks.

- Risk that the PRS becomes ‘residualised’ like the social sector if priorities are need based.

- Protection of income streams through standardised allocation.

Delivering a design

- Sense of home and belonging, opportunity to build a stable life through a place of their choice.


- More confidence in rent application process.

Value for private landlords: Value for the system/ society:

- More social acceptance and respect for a stereotyped ‘landlord’ figure.

- Policy does not directly meet landlords’ personal interests. They might back out of sector.

- Nurturing and supportive system improves their quality of life.

- Opportunity to create transformative change at a systemic level.

- Government would need funding to increase social housing stock if the move is towards more social -renting.Requires mutual agreement between multiple parties and stakeholders. proposal

- More power and rights to tenants.

- Promotes mixed communities and classes.

Gaining feedback from experts in the private and social rented sector was a highly insightful process. During initial conversations with housing providers I might have been looking for “validation” of my proposal. A conversation with Elio highlighted the constant evolution of the design process and how I should be looking for insight and critique. He helped my practice cross boundaries across Service Design and his specialism, Citizenship, to looking at opportunities opens up possibilities for life to flourish. As tough as it was to keep making ammends to ideas that I believed were “final”, I’m pleased to see the refinement they went through. It was also useful to get written feedback from these experts as I could tell that they were thought through, and not simply a verbal response during our conversation.

Deliver & Listen

Personal reflection & my practice as a designer

My approach was to be proactive in planning my project as a manager, rather than go with the flow and document my process at the end. Doing that while keeping it flexible to change plans and learn was the challenge. I’m pleased with the goals set out and the actions I took to meet them.

Undertaking a leadership role in previous collaborative projects gave me the confidence to have complete autonomy over my individual practice. I chose a topic that I cared about and intrigued me, and I had fun bringing in my playful personality into my work. I learnt to appreciate humility in my practice as a designer. Designers do have a role to play in attempting to solve big problems, but we must recognise the smallest value of our impact, and acknowledge our partner disciplines that helped us get there.




66 Appendix A


Young adults moving out for the first time/ shifting from a different tenure. Unaware of rent processes. Experienced & meticulous, they know their rights & responsibilities & follow them dutifully. Feels at the mercy of home owners & constantly in a state of worry about breaking rules or causing offence. Carefree Tenant Additional influences: First-Time Tenant Informed Tenant The Cautious Tenant

Appendix A

The following behaviour archetypes were identified from research. Although interesting and true, they were not suitable for further development of the project. I used the 2021 Pandemic Personas by Engine Service Design as a reference guide. On the move, & desire the flexibility to do so. Home & belonging is not location specific. They are up-to-date with all housing matters and policies, & often keep owners & agents on their toes. They campaign for their rights. Breeze through life & aren’t bothered by day-to-day home management responsibilities even if they make mistakes.

Tenant Archetypes The Transient Tenant The Advocate Tenant The




Believe in





Landlord Archetypes The Portfolio Landlord The Accidental Landlord The Dedicated Landlord Mapping behaviours:TheAnonymous Landlord The Approachable Landlord The Ethical Landlord

Multiple versions of landlord archetypes were created. Some not mutually exclusive, and others that attempted to split them into fixed behaviour types. While they did give me an understanding of this character, they did not majorly influence project decisions. multiple properties are not particular about consistent service quality or individual tenant needs. unintentionally become owners through inheritance or relocating. Professionalism is not a natural Responsibletrait. informed, they go out of their way to fulfill their roles as owners, provide for their tenants. their property as an investment, aren’t concerned with the tenants as long as agents manage the business. friendly neighbour who is available on call whenever there is an issue, or for a casual chat. fair treatment obligated to do what is right, with best interests of all people in mind.




- Prevent discrimination & violations to the Equality Act, 2010

- Ensure protection of tenants’ Right to Adequate Housing.

2. Urgency based priority- Situations causing insecure tenures, those experiencing abuse/ harassment

3. Less severe medical needs- mental disabilities or medical requirements

Appendix B

- Make best and fair use of existing housing stock to meet people’s needs.

Time spent on looking for a house- If no. of unsuccessful viewings + applications

- Guarantee protection of landlords income streams through standardised allocation.

Initial Allocation Policy Priorities shared for feedback:

Key objectives:

68 Appendix B

Details of proposal

- Encourage and support a wide diversity of applicants.

Addressing feedback & working with limitations of the PRS: Expert feedback showed concerns about the system mimicking the social sector. Shifting to a needs-based priority policy could have the same consequences on the PRS as it did with the social sector- residualised and stigmatised to be only for the community’s most needy and vulnerable. The PRS is known to offer choice and flexibility to tenants, in an open market, and an attractive personal investment opportunity for private landlords. It must not be put under pressure to cater to needs that the social sector is more capable of handling. Working with those factors in mind I refined my proposal to address the factors that were directly affecting “discrimination” and not “allocation”. Named the Opportunity-Based approach, the resulting system design tackles discrimination through fair opportunity, transparency in application, and regulation by a third party.

1. Blanket priority- For applicants with physical disabilities or severe medical needs, where the house is suitable for them

- Restore balance between rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords/ agents.

3. In terms of the ‘Allocation Policy Priorities’ – I would suggest they flesh this out a bit. There are a number of common circumstances they’ve missed. You would also have the near impossible challenge of getting a great number of private landlords to agree to a broad policy which would be difficult given each landlord has their own selfish interests at heart. Look at the Glasgow Common Housing register and trying to get more than sixty social landlords to agree on anything.

Where having long established local roots in a community or a care need within a particular area is required. This can be a particular issue in rural areas of Scotland where second homes, Air BnB etc. are forcing local young people out of the property market and often into moving away from their local area.

Appendix C

2. I don’t get why it randomly says ‘choice based letting and needs based’. Is this part of the scheme? If so, this is an entirely different thing they’re now moving onto which isn’t directly about avoiding discrimination, and is now moving onto allocations based on need which is basically adopting a social model for private lets, which absolutely wouldn’t work in my opinion. Trying to keep ‘a priority list’ which gives people a position for God knows how many private applicants is unmanageable.

Feedback from experts

1. Funding from Scottish Government is key to this proposal

69 Appendix C

3. Allocation Policy Priorities: Is it worth having a priority which reflects ‘local connection’?

Des Phee – Corporate Compliance Officer, Southside HA Michael Monaghan – Housing Manager Partick HA

2. Digital only process itself risks discriminating unconsciously towards older people or the digitally excluded. Digital exclusion is decreasing of course but worth a thought.

1. I think the Fair Housing Allocation Scheme most likely has to be a choice based system where people basically put in their requirements/and a range of housing options is generated for applicants to select from. Within this you could perhaps have some priority allocated in terms of homelessness and disability need. So if two people apply for the same property the applicant with the greater priority will be offered the property first. You could have a system fully based on housing need however the risk is that private sector housing becomes similarly ‘residualised’ when ‘mixed communities’ is the aspiration.

70 Des Phee – Corporate Compliance Officer, Southside HA

4. To address the policy priorities segment in your document - the government here provides accommodation for these groups. These groups very rarely apply to the private sector as they require full time care, custom property fixtures and, in some cases, 5.observation.Thecurrent system might seem unfair but the majority of private sector Landlords all operate on a first come first serve basis, providing all application terms have been met. The government cannot, legally or financially challenge the businesses and/or private sector based on rules they have set in place themselves - this would be total hypocrisy. I do not see this system implemented.

2. I feel tenant’s need to be realistic about their budgets and affordability. Some tenants lie and are dishonest on the applications which does have a knock-on effect for other applications. This is always addressed by us but I can understand why some other Landlords (private and commercial) may not respond to the tenant and just cancel the application.

I feel you should approach the new student accommodation developments and see the financial pitfalls they can entrap new tenants with.

3. Currently we have the fringe festival in Edinburgh - some commercial and private Landlords have paused student applications to run as Airbnb’s and short term pop-ups - Would this be an issue with your proposed system? You cannot force a system which requires a mutual agreement between groups.

I, personally, have had a bad experience with DSS tenants on numerous occasions so now these applicants undergo further rigorous checks with DWP.

1. Your proposal and it resonates with a similar system already in place for social housing. The government will not intervene to regulate a system they have contributed to, i.e., selling/leasing land to foreign investors who can build mega student accommodation structures and set extortionate rents yet be registered under various charities for exemption.

Rented Sector? [online] Available at: https://www.bidwells.co.uk/what-we-think/whatButler,is-the-private-rented-sector/.P.(2021).Black,Asianand

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Anushree Chokappa M.Des. Design Innovation & Service Design Thesis Project Journal Aug 2022 A ToPlaceCall Home

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