From: John Doyle, Director, The Housing Contact Company
Sir – I do not envy the challenge facing every social landlord with the advent of the Welfare Reform bill. The current situation of increasing rent arrears and the task of collecting that income before it turns into bad debt would make the notion of Universal Credit almost comical if it wasn’t so serious.
Universal Credit poses a massive threat to income teams and can’t be handled with the usual approach of posted reminders and the odd telephone call. Effective early intervention will be everything in the battle to collect rent from people, who until now have not had to develop the habit of paying it on time. The resources required to do that with contact agents will be prohibitive.
The only way to ensure that paying the rent becomes a priority for some tenants is to get back to basics and that means getting in fast. The facility to call all the likely defaulters early and often and then to transfer them to either a contact agent or a payment service directly will be a key component for effective collections. The added bonus of a full audit trail for all the calls made will also provide evidence of consistent pre-action protocols, which may be a useful last line of defence.
The battle for rent collections is only just beginning and those income teams who are determined to come out on top should make sure they have the necessary artillery.