Case Study: Cairn Housing

Cairn Housing is a Scottish Housing Association with around 3,500 properties across more than 20 Scottish Local Authorities, making them one of Scotland’s most diverse landlords.

Key Stats

Properties: 3,500
FTE Capacity Created: 1.76 FTE
Caseload Reduction: 62% (916 cases removed from 1,500)

Before RentSense

Prior to using RentSense the housing officers would use their Housing Management System (HMS) to generate their arrears workload. However, generating the list was laborious and it was riddled with inaccuracies, listing accounts that did not need contact, which meant officers were wasting valuable time.

There was also real concern around the impact of Universal Credit on Cairn following a pilot in the Highlands and some modelling that demonstrated arrears could treble throughout the roll-out.

“The decision was made to invest in RentSense, to give the officers more time to work with tenants and help us mitigate Universal Credit.” Commented John Davidson, Director of Customer Services at Cairn.

RentSense has dramatically cut an officers’ caseload by around 61%, before officers were getting around 1,500 cases and now with RentSense they get around 584 giving them that time to support tenants.

Reviewing Corporate Objectives

In light of the challenging environment Cairn reviewed their corporate strategy, as they want to make sure everyone is working towards the same goals, so three key objectives have been developed, which are: invest in stock, protect revenues and focus on development and growth.

“Everyone within in the organisation should be focused on these three objectives and you should be able to see a direct link between what you’re doing and one of the objectives.” Explains John.

Mitigating Universal Credit

Arguably the most important element for protecting revenues is mitigating the impact of Universal Credit.

“Income is our lifeblood, and in an organisation of 120 people 6 people are directly responsible for collecting the revenues. RentSense has created capacity and helped us work efficiently and target those tenants that need support,” comments John

Cairn has also looked at the current workload and the additional time required for Universal Credit cases. At the moment an officers’ current workload takes around 1,800 minutes to complete, when UC is fully rolled out this is likely take around 3,600 minutes.

“Arguably we would need to double the size of the team to cope, but within current budgets it is just not possible. That is why RentSense is key in freeing up officers’ time and presenting just the cases we need to action. We will look to reallocate resource through creating other efficiencies within the organisation,” explains John

“With RentSense you feel more organised and we focus our attention where it needs to be, and we get through our caseload now, which before was unheard of,” comments Jacquie Gardner, Senior Housing Officer at Cairn.

Building a Consecutive Partnership

The importance of working closely with partners is a priority for Cairn, as they want to ensure all partnerships feed into their three corporate objectives.

“The relationship is really good with Mobysoft,” comments Paul Robertson, Head of Customer Services at Cairn Housing. “When there has been any issues Mobysoft has worked with us to resolve them and we enjoy a really good working relationship.”

“Mobysoft has worked with us to improve the system and refine the rules. We have introduced new rules to the system, such as the new tenancy rule, this has really helped, and with RentSense we are now able to target former tenants.” Jacquie

Helping Tenants

For Cairn, as with all social landlords, catching debt at its earliest stage is so important, as it gives them more time to support tenants.

“With RentSense we pick up cases at their earliest stage now and it helps us help tenants out of debt. This is a big plus for and our customers,” comments Jacquie

It’s apparent to the officers that RentSense really understands the environment in which social landlords operate.

“The rent increase at the beginning of the financial year always used to be fraught, but RentSense picks up the rent increase and flags if Housing Benefit has not increased by enough straight away. This helps us and our tenants. If we do not identify this and tenants fall into arrears they get annoyed with us for not notifying them, so it gives them more faith in us when collecting the rent.”

When asked about recommending RentSense to other landlords Paul explains:

“We have and do. Other landlords come and visit us to look at RentSense. It gives us time and makes us more efficient, so the team are more effective. We are working smarter and have more time to support customers. The reporting from a management perspective is really useful, such as highlighting the demographics of those in arrears. It is this type of insight that enables us to respond.”