Hanover Housing is using Qube PM software to transform its service charge processes and increase transparency for tenants.
Philip Marns, service charge policy and projects manager, Hanover Housing, said, “The social housing sector generally has struggled to find a system that effectively manages the service charge aspect of its portfolios.
“Most housing providers are primarily property businesses so rent collection is clearly critical to their success. The systems that handle this part of the business are effective enough, but the systems that handle service charges are typically not particularly sophisticated and don’t offer the functionality required. The result can be a lack of transparency and uncollected fees.”
Qube was initially implemented in 2010 but with a restricted remit. Marns said, “Originally, the company was looking to operate Qube on a limited basis. At the time, the aim was simply to produce apportioned service charge budgets more accurately and easily. The estate schedule charge set-up prevented us from taking full advantage of Qube PM, although it was apparent that the software could help us solve many of our problems.”
Qube PM was re-implemented in October 2014 and Hanover Housing now has over 65 staff using the system. Marns said, “The first major challenge was to prepare for the 2015 service charge budgets, which were due at the beginning of April 2015. This went extremely well and the feedback from tenants is that the information is much clearer than before. Because our tenants are now receiving statements that show exactly how the cost is derived from the estate budget, it is easy for them to see exactly what they’re being charged for.”
Qube PM’s functionality has also enabled the housing provider to produce reports for individual estates detailing the breakdown of the service charge. Marns said, “The key benefit of this is that estate managers receive fewer questions. As a result, any enquiry is more likely to be solved at a local level.”
Commenting on Hanover Housing’s year-end accounting procedures, Marns said, “Because some expenditure is not service charge-related, we have to be able to filter these costs. Qube PM is integrated with our current financial system to enable us to do this. Had this issue not been tackled, we wouldn’t have been able to produce the service charge element of our year-end accounts through Qube PM.
“In addition, when we let a property, the report produced via Qube PM is now a key part of the tenancy agreement. We refer to the statement of estimated service charge as the amount tenants are required to pay. This offers a clear breakdown from the outset and therefore helps to manage their expectations.”