Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) has used RentSense to help improve performance, deliver efficiencies, and sustain tenancies, and during the Covid pandemic it has been a tool in helping YHN enable their income officers to work remotely.
YHN has used RentSense for several years and Christopher Todd, Senior Manager Income Advice and Collection at YHN, credits RentSense with helping them improve their collection rates over the years as it enables them to focus on the right tenants at the right time.
“RentSense has assisted us mitigate Universal Credit and welfare reform, it’s the simplicity of the accuracy of RentSense that is so important. The cases are prioritised in order that is relevant to us, and it acts as a really clear work tray for staff, so they know what they have to do. With the Housing Management System (HMS) they would have to review each case and decide whether the tenant needs contact. It takes away that wasted time, as officers know these are people we need to contact.”
As with many social landlords, the recent Covid pandemic has made YHN change how they work and operate. The ability to work remotely but also oversee how staff are working and performing has been critical.
“Officers being able to access RentSense from any location enabled us to get the team mobile straight away. Following the initial outcomes of this way of working we are certainly considering this will be how the team spend the majority of their time in the future. The reporting on RentSense enables me to see how everyone is performing and managers can use this for one to ones.”
Like many landlords the executive team at YHN have required regular information updates on collections and performance so they can monitor both how tenants are coping with the pandemic but also collections and how arrears have been impacted.
“RentSense has really helped me keep the board informed, whether that’s providing up to the minute collection performance, how we are performing on Universal Credit cases, what percentage of customers are paying or not paying. With RentSense we can get all this information, otherwise the IT team would need to create more reports in the HMS, which would take time.”
Managing the Universal Credit Spike
Part of the fall out of Covid has been the surge in Universal Credit (UC) claimants across the UK, at one stage there was around one million new claims in two weeks. YHN had around 7,000 tenants claiming UC already before lockdown, and numbers have risen by around 20% since then.
“The Universal Credit rules in RentSense have really helped manage the 1,400 new UC claimants YHN have had since lockdown,” comments Chris.
“They have helped ensure we contact the tenants at the right times and support them through the process of claiming.”
Before Covid YHN was on course for their best ever year’s collection performance, and that was with 7,000 UC tenants, in the end collection remained high and finished on 98.82%. However, since then collection rates have picked up, and since lockdown these have been regularly over 100%.
“In the last financial year we were collecting higher amounts of rents than previously before, we reduced the amount of legal action needed and reduced the amount of accounts ending in eviction. With the lower need for legal action we have saved our customers around £32,500 in additional costs. With the average eviction costing the organisation £15,000 this has saved over £150,000. RentSense has contributed to the team’s success in cash collection and sustaining tenancies by giving them the right cases in the right order. It sounds simple but this system is keeping more people in their homes.” Comments Chris.