Case Study: Connect Housing
Connect Housing is a charitable housing and support provider in West Yorkshire, that owns and manages around 3,000 homes across Leeds, Calderdale and Kirklees.
Income Officer Capacity Created: 1.47 FTE
Arrears: from 2.8% (2014/15) to 2.00% (2016/17)
Arrears Collection: collected more than £100,000 in arrears
Prior to investing in RentSense Connect Housing was looking to create efficiencies and find new ways of working, as there were concerns that they would find it hard to maintain their improving performance, especially with the onset of ongoing welfare reform.
“Prior to RentSense the income team were working off a monthly list from the Housing Management System (HMS),” explains Ilyas Lunat, the Income Services Manager at Connect Housing.
“Not only were they unable to get through their caseload, but there was a lot of time wastage with officers checking cases that required no action. We looked at reducing the caseload coming from the HMS with some limited success, but we realised we needed to work more efficiently and essentially deliver more for less.”
An internal report was made to Senior Management highlighting how the income team could work more efficiently and continue to improve performance if they invested in RentSense. The report contained findings that income officers were wasting 20% of their time, essentially one day a week, on tasks such as checking cases that required no action.
The decision was then made to invest in RentSense and it went live in April 2015. The aim was simple, which was use RentSense to help Connect target just the cases they needed to.
RentSense’s impact was to substantially reduce caseload and increase staff capacity by 21% per Officer. In turn by presenting the income team with just the cases they require it has enabled them to accelerate Connect’s reducing arrears levels and eliminate the time wastage, so they are getting through their caseload. Moreover, it has led to further efficiencies as they have been able to change how they deal with arrears cases.
“The income team has remained static over time, but RentSense has freed up time to deal with additional workload. Before the Customer Service Team used to deal with low level arrears work but the income team now has the capacity to pick this up,” comments Ilyas.
Since the deployment of RentSense the income team has been able to reduce arrears by 28.6% over two years with the figure falling each year. They were 2.8% when Connect deployed RentSense, after just twelve months this had been reduced down to 2.3% and by March 2017 they were just 2.0%. Not only are these the lowest arrears levels for the last eleven years but it has enabled them to collect over £100,000 in arrears in that time. Moreover, this has coincided with the Connect income team achieving Upper Quartile Housemark benchmark performance for arrears.
Ilyas credits RentSense with enabling the income team to work more efficiently and essentially tackle just the cases they need to which has helped further improve performance but also change how they deal with residents in arrears.
“We are picking up arrears cases earlier. Under the old system we were not picking up low level arrears cases quick enough. Now we are getting them earlier we can contain them and our communication and contact with the tenant is less about ‘enforcement’ and more about enabling arrears to be cleared. This approach has helped us deliver more support and develop that rapport with tenants as well.”
This has had a knock-on effect to tenants as well as Connect are able to better sustain tenancies and keep people in their homes.
“RentSense helps us maintain low arrears as it picks up the debt earlier, and also evictions are low and tenancies are sustained, which is key for us as an organisation. It is the simple things,” explains Ilyas.
“It (RentSense) is giving the income team more clarity in their work and they are able to achieve more and help improve Connect’s overall performance.”
Client Success Manager
It is not just the software that is helping Connect, but the on-going support and service they receive too. Each RentSense customer has an allotted Client Success Manager that helps with the implementation and training and then, in turn, helps organisations meet their original business case targets.
“Tracy (Connect’s Client Success Manager) is good to work with and the regular meetings we have are very useful. It shows how we are performing, and we analyse reports that shine a light on performance.” comments Ilyas.
RentSense has helped Connect work more efficiently and it has generated tangible and very clear benefits including the caseload and arrears reduction. Ilyas put forward a report to the board on the effectiveness of RentSense, eighteen months after go live. In it Ilyas was able to substantiate a lot of the benefits as well demonstrate a 1.47 FTE (full time equivalent) RentSense has helped save which in turn has enabled low level arrears to be returned to the income team, as demonstration of the system’s effectiveness in creating efficiencies and working smarter.