FTA Quick Guide: Three Essential Considerations for Collecting FTA Efficiently

Former tenant arrears (FTA) are, whether justified or not, are something that many social landlords do not prioritise and simply accept as part and parcel of operating in the sector. We explored whether failure to collect this type of arrears will eventually prove problematic for social housing providers in our recent FTA: Social Housing’s Silent Threat? feature, So please do check that out for some wider context. However, if your organisation has decided to tackle FTA head-on then read on as we identify and examine what we think are the three most important considerations when collecting FTAs efficiently.

View FTA as a Valid Revenue Stream

It may seem obvious but the first step towards collecting FTA efficiently is actually considering them worth collecting. As covered extensively in our longform feature on FTA, there’s a popular misconception that FTA are just something that are accepted within the sector as an occupational hazard and just something that has always been there. This is certainly not the case however but getting (some) social landlords to consider FTA worth collecting most likely involves a culture shift within that organisation. This won’t be easy but if you’re in a position to influence key decision makers then a good start would be to extoll the virtues of pursuing an extremely valuable revenue stream – according to the regulators In England & Scotland the combined former tenant arrears amount to around £0.5Bn.

Adopt a Unified Approach

Income collection teams throughout the sector have made tremendous strides when it comes to supporting tenants to enable to pay their rent on time. The efficiencies implemented however haven’t really been transferred to the realm of collecting FTA , meaning that monies owed by someone who is no longer a tenant are arbitrarily written of and never thought of again by the landlord. It’s quite an odd state of affairs, all things considered, as income teams – buoyed by the successes gained from implementing a ‘Rent First’ message in relation to active tenants – would never dream of adopting a similar approach for current tenant arrears. It’s imperative that arrears of all kinds are treated in the same manner by income teams, especially given that ensuring that all customers are treated equitably is one of the core tenets of the incoming Tenant Satisfaction Measures.

Utilise Technology

The traditionally held view is that collecting FTA is high effort and low yield and, as such, has been viewed across the sector as an inefficient use of often already stretched resources. A key driver in upholding this outmoded attitude is the perceived view that there’s a lack of efficient, applicable systems to help in this area. More often than not, social landlords merely keep FTA lists on a basic spreadsheet with no internal reporting mechanism – something that generally leads to confusion among officers chasing debts. Alternatively, if there is a system in place, cases are often over presented – leading teams or officers’ attentions being spread too thinly and resulting in a higher chance of write off than actual cash collection. There is another way, however. By harnessing AI powered systems such as Mobysoft’s FTA Essential, former tenant debt can be easily managed from the point that notice is given by the tenant. By providing accurate data and caseloads, a system such as this can empower income teams to be proactive and really focus on those case that need it and are at risk of becoming an ‘uncollectable’ FTA.

If you’d like to find out more about how FTA can be managed more efficiently by utilising Mobysoft FTA Essentials then download our Effective Management of FTA Guide today.

Nick Beasley