Ongo Homes has reduced its arrears by around £500,000 during the last two years thanks to introducing a ‘rent first’ approach alongside Mobysoft’s RentSense software.
Ongo initially introduced RentSense to provide an accurate caseload for their income officers so that they could be more efficient in addressing the right cases at the right time.
Matt Kelly, income manager, Ongo Homes, said, “Before the introduction of RentSense, we struggled to get an accurate caseload from our housing management system, so our income officers spent too much time trying to work out which tenants they needed to speak with. RentSense has since helped us to identify tenancies at the earliest stages of debt and intervene before it becomes a problem.”
The introduction of RentSense coincided with a ‘rent first’ approach across the organisation. Ongo was keen to eradicate siloed working and wanted to engender a united ethos around rent collection. This was central to Ongo’s risk-mitigation plan for universal credit, and part of the solution was to get tenants to pay their rent in advance and thus eliminate ‘technical arrears’.
The ‘rent first’ culture also meant that when tenants contacted Ongo, if their account was in arrears then that was raised on the call and non-urgent repairs wouldn’t be booked until the issues with rent payments had been addressed.
Kelly said, “In terms of universal credit, RentSense has given us back the time at the start and at the point of the UC claim. We can have in-depth conversations and set expectations regarding how important paying the rent is – as a result, we have a decreasing number of tenants on alternative payment arrangements (APAs).
“We have around 2,500 tenancies on UC at the moment but our average UC arrears is just £70 due to a combination of ‘rent first’ and RentSense. Furthermore, the pandemic has affected 485 of our tenancies, of which 286 are now claiming UC but the average arrears across this group is only £40.
“From a management perspective, RentSense has really helped during the lockdown. It helps me provide in-depth reports to our executive team, which I’m now doing weekly rather than just monthly. I can also check our patch configuration in RentSense to monitor the number of UC claimants alongside tenant profiles so we can match the right income officers with the right tenant profiles. Any changes made can be tested first to see what the outcome will be, to ensure parity across the team.”