East Kent Housing has reported on how its multi-channel approach to tenant communications has reduced its rent arrears over £100,000 since it took over rent collection when it launched in April 2011, and evictions for rent arrears have fallen by 64 per cent.
East Kent strategy had a number of facets. These included focusing less on letters and more on out of hours contact and the use of text messaging, with over 1,500 texts sent each month which proved vital in engaging with younger and harder to reach tenants.
A ‘Monty the Money Dog’ fictional character was created to give tenants advice on how to pay rent for the first time and general money advice, including a dedicated Monty page on Facebook for regular money-saving advice and budgeting tips.
Through analysis of its tenant arrears data, East Kent identified the local areas and tenant groups facing financial difficulty and targeted its approach to the most vulnerable categories of tenants. A new tenant sign up process was developed, which included setting up monthly payments and early intervention contact if the tenant fell into arrears.
East Kent also created a new benefits and money advisory team which gives tenants personalised advice on maximising their income and how to budget better. Since January 2013, over 500 tenants have been helped by the team, including 150 tenants supported to downsize and/or receive extra income.