Case Study: Regenda Homes
The Regenda Group is a leading independent social landlord and regeneration organisation in the North West. They manage 13,000 properties for rent or sale across the region and provide homes to 25,000 families.
Arrears Reduction: £71,940
Universal Credit Collection Rate: 101.4%
Caseload Reduction: 36%
Prior to investing in RentSense, Regenda were trying to address issues with their officers’ rent arrears caseload; the cases being recommended for action by their Housing Management System were not always accurate, as it was missing cases that required action and highlighting cases that needed none. Then in 2013 Regenda underwent a restructure of its Financial Inclusion Service and they looked to address the rent arrears caseload. That resulted in them starting over and trying to marry up the HMS recommendations to their process; they were also aided by their HMS supplier. Unfortunately, it didn’t achieve everything Regenda required. Kelly Farrell, Financial Inclusion Manager at Regenda Homes, explains:
“The new system never really worked and we knew we could not risk missing cases. So we went back to the old fashioned reports, printing out all reports on every account then you would have to look at all accounts. We had to do this as we were missing cases that were not being recommended by the HMS, and before you know it accounts had quite high rent arrears and we had not taken any action.”
With Regenda reverting to this manual process of looking at all accounts this impacted productivity as Kelly highlights:
“This meant staff were only ever getting through around 50% of their lists, especially the low-level rent arrears, and always had cases left at the end of the week, and there’s nothing more demotivating than having staff with work left.”
This situation had prompted Regenda to begin talking to Mobysoft as they understood RentSense could deal effectively with caseload management, even when dealing with housing benefit payment cycles from multiple councils.
“At Regenda Homes we work with twenty-three different local authorities that pay on lots of different frequencies. We have four-weekly, two-weekly, and weekly payments combined with different payment weeks. This makes managing performance in your rent arrears challenging when you only want to see the cases that you want to action,” comments Kelly.
Regenda spoke with other landlords and were keen to see if they could achieve what others were when using RentSense.
They made the decision to invest in RentSense and were keen to see a reduction in their rent arrears and create officer capacity to enable staff to look at accounts that needed looking at from day one and also help on other projects.
“Our HMS was recommending around 2,500 cases whereas RentSense recommends around 1,600 cases, and of those around 600 are missed by the HMS, whilst RentSense also strips out about 1,300 that HMS was presenting that required no action.”
Now working with an accurate caseload this has multiple benefits for Regenda, as the team generally completes their actions every week.
“With RentSense we can manage the resource more effectively. It has helped with staff morale and motivation as staff are getting through their workload and we have a much more targeted approach.”
Arresting Current and Former Arrears
Indeed, the accurate caseload has meant that staff have started to set their own targets, such as how many RentSense accounts they want to see on their patch in March next year. All of which is helping Regenda drive down arrears. In their first year alone Regenda reduced their arrears by £71,940 and increased their collection rate to 99.2%.
It is not just current tenants’ arrears that are falling, as RentSense has helped free up the income team’s time so they can focus on former arrears as well.
“We work on former tenant arrears (FTA) now; before, we never had the capacity to. Our FTAs have fallen and we are collecting more money on them now,” comments Kelly.
Regenda have used RentSense to help them in their efforts against the impact of Universal Credit (UC). They currently have 424 UC cases and as part of their plans to mitigate Universal Credit they invested in RentSense and created new processes specifically for this new benefit. The result: they have a collection rate on Universal Credit cases of 101.4%.
RentSense has also helped them free up officer capacity within their organisation and the way RentSense works means that it is very easy to share and work on other officers’ and teams’ patches.
“At Regenda we work in regional teams, so my team will complete their workload and they can go and assist with another region, as they can access the cases, whereas with our HMS this would not be an option. It has created capacity within the team that they can work on other things.”
Decision Validated by Auditor
Regenda’s decision to invest in RentSense has recently been validated by their external auditor, one of the big four.
“They (the auditor) look at are we following our processes and are they (the processes) fit for purpose? This is especially important with welfare reform. On the last audit, they wanted to understand more about RentSense and what it does. Once they had looked into it and we explained how we use it they said it has definitely made an impact on accounts and it was highly recommended as part of the audit.”