With serious concerns that Universal Credit will increase the number of tenants falling into debt, these housing providers have changed their approach to rent collection, with a shift from enforcement to doing their upmost to support tenants in staying in their homes.
At the heart of this change of approach is the use of technology.
These tech savvy landlords are using a unique system, called Insight, which collates information from their housing management systems, combining it with external data gathered from hundreds of third party sources. This system enables landlords to pinpoint those who are at risk of falling into debt much earlier, which is key to preventing the debt from spiralling out of control, and put the necessary support into place to help them to manage it more effectively.
This proactive approach is helping Cardiff’s residents to stay out of debt and maintain their tenancies.
This system is now being used by Cardiff based landlords, Cadwyn Housing Association, which manages more than 2,000 homes in Cardiff and Caerphilly, Hafod Housing Association, which has more than 4,000 homes in South East Wales, and Cardiff Community Housing Association, which has 2,800 homes in the Cardiff area.
Andrew Bateson, Director of Operations at Cadwyn Housing Association, added: “We are reacting positively against a changing landscape in housing. Insight can help us to better understand how we tailor our services for the benefit of tenants. With Insight, we will now be able to make proactive, more informed decisions which will drive efficiencies and focus our resources more effectively.”
Richard McQuillan, Head of Housing Services at Hafod Housing Association, added: “Insight exactly fits with our philosophy of tenant sustainability and ticks the boxes in terms of helping us to learn more about our tenants. Insight is being used by a number of our teams and it is already being embedded into their day jobs. We are now able to run pre-tenancy financial assessments on all new tenants, something which was almost impossible to do before; this allows us to work proactively in supporting people much earlier.”
Deborah Harrington, Community & Support Services Manager for Cardiff Community Housing Association, said: “Our core aim is to sustain tenancies and part of our strategy is to move away from a reactive arrears process to one that is far more proactive and preventative. Insight allows us to identify cases of high financial distress so that we can offer support and interventions at the earliest opportunity even before the first rental payment is missed and is critical in helping our tenants before the situation spirals out of control.”
Simon Hollingsworth, Managing Director of Housing Partners, said: “We recognised through talking to our social landlord customers across Wales that many would value a more pro-active approach to debt assistance. Insight delivers a new approach to debt management, enabling providers to focus staff and resources and target areas most in need of support. It is empowering staff with knowledge that gives a full picture of a tenant’s financial circumstances. Staff are able to work more efficiently and tenants are seeing the results with extra support.”