Service Specification – Lot 4: Secure Private Sector Housing
1 Purpose of the service
The Provider will work with people threatened with homelessness or experiencing homelessness to secure private sector housing as quickly as possible.
The Provider will work with people, 16 years and older, including single people, couples without children and families. The Provider will ensure that people from hard to reach groups are able to access the service. The Provider will maintain continuity of service to customers in the transition period.
Objectives of the service
The Provider will directly meet the following objectives: provide households who are homeless or threatened by homelessness with access to private rented accommodation by assisting them to raise deposits (e.g. through personal savings, loans, including Capital Credit Union loans) or by use of Rent Deposit Guarantees where personal savings and loans are unavailable or by other appropriate means give priority to maximising the numbers of households accessing private sector housing as quickly as possible assist people to locate suitable private sector properties, to negotiate with landlords and to arrange Housing Benefit encourage people to save for rent deposits assess and match flat sharing tenants and properties which maintain existing positive social networks provide mediation between flat sharers provide follow up visits to tenants during the first six months of their tenancy to ensure they are managing their home successfully share information with the Council’s Private Sector Services Team (PSST) about tenancies and landlords where there are concerns about the standard and quality of accommodation work closely with the Council’s PSST to minimise duplication of work in areas such as referrals and references, sharing property information, property inspection and certification (gas, electric and furnishings) and housing benefit processing.
The Provider will either directly meet or signpost customers to other agencies in order to meet the following objectives: obtain support for vulnerable tenants in establishing and maintaining their home Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 1 of 19
promote best use of the benefit system and income maximisation to help people avoid or address housing debt that may lead to them losing their home ensure people get advice and information on energy efficiency so they do not become homeless due to debt caused by fuel poverty assist people to take up training, education and volunteering opportunities ensure access to employment for people who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness by linking with mainstream employment services provide advice on benefits when people take up employment so that they can access all the benefits they are entitled to and do not lose out provide housing advice and information to an accredited standard (e.g. HomePoint) promote the Young Person’s Housing Options Guide - a local web based resource – that provides a range of advice and information appropriate to young person’s needs ensure information and advice is targeted appropriately at people from BME communities ensure information and advice is targeted appropriately at people with learning disabilities.
(i) Strategic outcomes It is essential that the Provider contribute to meeting the following strategic outcomes: customers access the private rented sector customers sustain accommodation.
The Provider will also contribute, where possible, to meeting the following additional strategic outcomes: prevent homelessness customers access training, employment and volunteering customers access primary health care services.
(ii) Key customer outcomes The Provider will work towards achieving the following key outcomes for customers: Key Customer Outcomes Obtain private rented accommodation Obtain private rented accommodation as quickly as possible Measure Number of households entering private rented accommodation % of households who obtain private rented accommodation within 6 weeks of approaching the service Target Year 1 minimum of 280 minimum of 80% Target Year 2 minimum of 300 minimum of 85% Target Year 3 minimum of 320 minimum of 90%
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 2 of 19
Find suitable people to share a flat with
% of single people seeking flat sharing who are successfully matched with other sharers and a property % of people worked with who have saved to the point of having their own deposit (i.e. no longer need to borrow money or to use a rent deposit guarantee) % of people who are in their accommodation after six months minimum of 85% % of people who are in their accommodation after 12 months
minimum of 80%
minimum of 85%
minimum of 90%
Save for a deposit
minimum of 40%
minimum of 45%
minimum of 50%
Maintain accommodation (including an unbroken series of accommodation)
minimum of 85%
minimum of 87%
minimum of 90%
minimum of 80%
minimum of 82%
minimum of 85%
Annual targets for the above key customer outcomes will be reviewed after the first six months of service delivery. Furthermore, targets will be reviewed annually and reset to ensure there is continuous improvement. (iii) Themes and additional customer outcomes The Provider will also contribute to the achievement of the following themes and additional outcomes for customers. The Provider’s contribution to outcome achievement will be monitored from the outset and then annual targets will be set after six months of service delivery with the expectation that there will be regular improvement in outcome performance. The Provider in pursuing outcomes with customers will promote the following Homelessness Strategy themes: prevention of homelessness or the reoccurrence of homelessness customers into or towards employment access to the private housing sector customer self advocacy customer independence accessibility for all equalities groups and sensitivity to their particular needs.
The Provider will contribute to the achievement of the additional specific customer outcomes related to these themes as detailed in Appendix 1 of the specification. (iv) Added value The Provider, where possible, will bring further resources to the service e.g. funding, volunteering, or additional services.
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 3 of 19
Strategic awareness and partnership working
The Provider will work in line with the Homelessness Strategy for Edinburgh and any associated strategies and policies and will be open and responsive to strategic change. To maximise outcome achievement for customers it will be necessary for the Provider to work effectively with a range of statutory, voluntary, community and private sector partners. In particular, the Provider will work closely with City of Edinburgh Council services and services commissioned by the City of Edinburgh Council. Other partners may include (and this is not an exhaustive list), NHS Lothian, landlords, housing support providers, employability agencies, advice and information providers, practical help services, criminal justice services, local communities, neighbourhood partnerships, families and carers.
The service will enable at least 280 to 320 households per year to enter private sector housing.
The service will maximise it’s availability to customers including, where necessary, operating outside normal office hours and office settings to ensure that hard to reach customers access the service. The Provider will work with customers who have a range of specific needs.
Access to the service
Customers will access the service by self referral or referral from any agency. It is anticipated that the City of Edinburgh Council will be a significant source of referrals. If necessary, the Provider and the Council will agree priorities regarding access to the service.
Customers will receive a Provider led assessment supported by a Single Shared Assessment where appropriate. From time to time the commissioning team will undertake reviews to ensure that the service is being provided to those who most need it.
The Provider will make the following monitoring returns to the Commissioning Team of the Services for Communities Department, City of Edinburgh Council: Reporting Customer Outcomes Report Service Narrative Report Financial Statements Equalities Assessment Frequency Quarterly Quarterly Quarterly Annually Reporting Vehicle ECCO Monitoring System Electronic Document Electronic Document Electronic Document
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 4 of 19
The Provider will involve and consult customers in relation to the delivery of the service. Provider will have procedures for collecting feedback from their customers and will be able to evidence that this has been used to improve the service.
The Provider will be responsible for all transition arrangements from any existing providers including, but not limited to: TUPE arrangements (if relevant) continuity of customer care, including ensuring successful reallocation of customers to other services if more appropriate supply of appropriate records and necessary permissions communication of transition plans to affected staff and customers regular updates to the City of Edinburgh Council on the transition process.
Duration and value of contract
The contract will be awarded for three years with the provision to extend. The estimated three year value of this contract is £540,000 (five hundred and forty thousand pounds).
Key outcomes response
Appendix 2 of this document outlines responses required to the key outcomes for this Lot.
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 5 of 19
APPENDIX 1: Additional Customer Outcomes
Customer Outcomes Housing support needs assessed Annual targets to be set after six months of service delivery % of people worked with who have had their housing support needs assessed % of people worked with who have had their other support needs assessed % of people worked with whose assessed needs are being addressed % of people receiving support to maintain their home reporting that they obtained visiting housing support when they needed it Other (non housing) support needs met through accessing appropriate help Income maximised in order to avoid debt (e.g. rent arrears) Fuel poverty avoided by improved energy efficiency of the home Get a job or take part in training, volunteering and education to eventually get a job Establish a home % of people worked with whose assessed needs are being addressed % of people worked with who have maximised their income % of people worked with who have improved the energy efficiency of their homes % of people worked with accessing education, training and employment opportunities % of households who have moved into their home with furniture % of households who have moved into their home with working utilities
Need for other support assessed
Housing support received within the home when it is needed, whatever the tenure
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 6 of 19
APPENDIX 2: Key Customer Outcomes
You are required to respond to all of the following five key outcome areas. You should refer closely to the service specification associated with this Lot. Your responses will be assessed as part of the overall evaluation of your submission. Your response to each key outcome area should not exceed 1000 words (please use font size 10/12). Key Outcome 1: Obtain private rented accommodation Weighting: 11%
Please set out clearly how you will attempt to maximise the number of customers who are homeless or threatened with homelessness that obtain private rented accommodation. Response:
Orchard & Shipman propose to build on our existing experience of housing customers in the private rented sector in Edinburgh, along with existing arrangements to have a presence within the Council’s offices at Cockburn Street. By 3rd November 2008, we will have a presence within the Council’s Cockburn Street offices, though we would also source a city centre office premises from which this contract would be run. These premises, along with our existing office presence in Leith, would offer potential customers 3 different locations, geographically spread across the city. Is anticipated that by building on our existing reputation for housing homeless customers in the private rented sector, these additional premises will encourage more customers to visit us to discuss their housing needs and subsequently allow us to maximise the number of customers accessing private rented accommodation. The forthcoming Cockburn Street office premises will be established as part of an existing Private Sector Leasing contract with City of Edinburgh Council, however there are clear overlaps where this presence may benefit both contracts. If, for example, a tenant visited Cockburn Street to look for temporary accommodation, it may become apparent that they would be more suited to housing through this contract than through PSL, perhaps if they have indicated a desire to flat-share, to minimise their expenditure. In these circumstances, it would be possible for Orchard & Shipman staff to provide some information on private sector housing through this contract and refer the customer to our dedicated offices to discuss this further. This would have the dual benefit of not only maximising the numbers accessing private rented accommodation, but also diverting customers who may not wish to live alone to a more suitable, cost effective option than a Private Sector Leasing property. We would also seek to maximise the numbers accessing private rented accommodation by actively seeking properties with more than one bedroom, in order to facilitate the housing of family units or those interested in flat sharing. Further information on how we would propose to match flat sharers with each other and suitable properties, by maintaining a dedicated database
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 7 of 19
based on preferences, is outlined in Key Outcome 3. Orchard & Shipman also have a proven track record of procuring high numbers of good quality properties from the private rented sector in Edinburgh. This is evident from the procurement figures demonstrated in our existing Private Sector Leasing contract with City of Edinburgh Council, where we have consistently exceeded procurement targets since the scheme began in August 2005. Despite the fact that we have now procured over 1,400 properties in Edinburgh, and have more in the pipeline, we still receive a high number of queries on a daily basis from landlords with properties in Edinburgh, interested in handing them over to us to house CEC tenants. With this proven track record and continued interest, we are confident that we would continue to procure properties throughout the city and therefore maximise the number of tenancies created through this contract. As well as procuring properties, Orchard & Shipman also have a proven track record of obtaining properties spread throughout the city. Prior to the implementation of new multi-member ward boundaries in May 2007, we had properties under management in 57 of the city’s 58 wards. This geographical spread helps maximise the numbers of tenants accessing accommodation in the private sector, as regardless of where people wish to reside, it is likely we will manage, or can procure, a property to suit their needs. Our experience working with tenants to date suggests that location is one of the most important factors for consideration when seeking accommodation. Rather than being concerned about the duration of the lease or who the landlord of the property is, the majority of tenants, in our experience, are more concerned with living in an area they know and where they have existing family or positive social networks. This is particularly the case amongst families, whose priority is usually to minimise the disruption to their children’s lives by keeping them in the same schools. Our knowledge and understanding of the private rented sector, coupled with our experience working with private landlords, dating back 20 years, has helped us achieve a positive and trusted reputation with private landlords, particularly in Edinburgh where we manage our largest contract. This reputation and our existing relationships with landlords and property investors help us to maximise our property procurement rate, and in turn maximise the number of customers who can access homes in the private rented sector. In addition, we also have a number of equalities measures in place to ensure hard to reach client groups and people with equalities, learning difficulties, disabilities, literacy problems or language barriers can benefit from our service in the same way that any other customers can. Further detail on how we would achieve the customer outcomes for people with equalities is detailed in our response to section B.6.1. in Tenderer’s Submission - Schedule 2. By working in this way, we believe that all customers, regardless of age, sex, race, religion, disability, language or literacy levels, will be able to access our service, therefore maximising the number of customers obtaining private rented accommodation.
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 8 of 19
Key Outcome 2: Obtain private rented accommodation as quickly as possible
Please set out clearly how you will attempt to ensure the time period taken for customers to obtain private rented accommodation is minimised.
As is detailed in Key Outcome 1, Orchard & Shipman have a proven track record of exceeding procurement targets for private rented properties in Edinburgh. As we have existing relationships with many landlords and property investors, we do not envisage any problems in procuring further properties in the city, thus the speed of property procurement will not affect the time taken for customers to obtain private rented accommodation. The implementation plan attached at Appendix M, along with the information supplied in response to Key Outcome 1 also details our plans to have 3 physical access points across Edinburgh, as well as joint working between staff delivering our PSL contract and staff working on this contract, to maximise the number of customers housed in the private sector and ensure their needs and preferences are reflected in the type of property and tenancy they are allocated. Orchard & Shipman also have a proven track record of starting tenancies very quickly, often within 2-3 days of a tenant being referred. This is due to our experienced tenancy management and administrative staff who work in partnership to minimise the time elapsing between a tenant’s details being passed to Orchard & Shipman and the tenant moving into suitable accommodation and commencing a tenancy. We are confident that engaging with tenants as soon as they advise of an interest in private sector accommodation would further speed up this process, allowing us to meet with tenants in the first instance to assess their suitability for a private let, discuss the various options available to them (e.g. flat sharing), identify their needs and preferences and arrange a viewing. This process would be handled by our experienced holistic Welfare & Benefits team, who would offer advice and guidance, as well as identifying any potential support requirements and assessing customers’ eligibility for Housing Benefit. Our experience in the provision of PSL contracts in Scotland means we have staff knowledgeable and experienced in Housing Benefit and the documentation that is required to demonstrate proof of income to the Council’s Revenues & Benefits department. By meeting our staff prior to a viewing, the process would also allow for tenants to source any required Housing Benefit paperwork before the viewing took place, ensuring all the required documentation was in place prior to tenancy commencement. By providing viewings as part of our service to landlords, we will in turn eliminate any delays that may otherwise occur waiting on the landlord’s
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 9 of 19
availability to conduct a viewing. Our experienced staff currently conduct robust and thorough viewings at very little notice, and would continue to do so under the provision of this contract. By conducting viewings using our own staff, we can also offer the added benefit of ensuring tenants are advised of everything they need to know prior to commencing their tenancy and are given copies of all relevant documentation, including the tenancy documents which would be completed at each successful viewing. Following the viewing, Orchard & Shipman would maximise the benefits of our existing working relationship with the City of Edinburgh Council’s Revenues & Benefits department, to ensure that Housing Benefit applications were progressed efficiently and that documents were processed and entitlement calculated as soon as possible. This would have the dual benefit of reassuring the landlord and the tenant that HB funding was in place to cover rental payments. By maintaining a flat sharer’s database based on customers’ preferences, as outlined in more detail in our response to Key Outcome 3, Orchard & Shipman would further reduce the time period for customers to obtain accommodation. It is likely that when in place, customers would be able to find close matches to their property and flat sharer preferences during a visit to our office premises, where a viewing could then be arranged. As well as maximising positive social networks, this approach also fully maximises the potential of each property by avoiding under-occupancy. Throughout the lettings process, Orchard & Shipman would also seek to work closely with the Council’s Private Sector Services Team to minimise the duplication of work, particularly around key areas such as referrals, references, property information, inspections, certification and Housing Benefit. This is something we have a working knowledge and experience in currently, as we work closely with the Council’s Private Sector Leasing Team at present, in the delivery of our PSL contract. It is envisaged that streamlining this process would further minimise delays in commencing tenancies that can be caused by administrative hold-ups or duplicate working. By applying these existing approaches to partnership working with the City of Edinburgh Council, drawing on our practical knowledge and experience working with tenants in the city and our building on our existing relationships with landlords, we would ensure that the time period taken for customers to obtain private rented accommodation is minimised.
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 10 of 19
Key Outcome 3: Find suitable people to share a flat with
Please set out clearly how you will attempt to successfully match flat sharers with each other and with properties. Your response should consider how you will source suitable properties for flat sharing. Response:
During the property procurement stage, Orchard & Shipman would focus procurement on 2 bedroom properties. This would have the dual benefit of keeping set-up costs for the landlord low (by removing the need for HMO licensing on the property), whilst keeping shared properties to a limited number of sharers. It is envisaged that dwellings housing three or more cooccupants would be more liable to experience flat-sharer disagreement, whilst two flat sharers should present less risk. Orchard & Shipman also plan on maintaining a database of contacts to record details of service users who are interested in flat sharing, along with their property and flat-sharer preferences. Upon initial discussions with a service user, the benefits of communal living and flat sharing would be outlined, focussing on the money that can be saved through sharing the cost of bills for utilities, council tax and other costs of living. Potential tenants interested in flat sharing would then be asked if they already know of someone with whom they could see themselves sharing a property. Assuming both parties were deemed to be suitable to live in a private sector tenancy, this would be preferable to matching people who have never met to live together, as it is likely that maintaining an existing positive relationship would benefit all parties and result in a decreased likelihood of a failed tenancy caused by flat-sharer’s disagreements. If however a service user did not know of any existing contacts with whom they wished to live, but were still keen on taking advantage of the benefits of flat sharing, they would complete a simple form by ticking boxes to indicate their preferences for a property and a flat-sharer, creating a profile of their preferences. Typical property preference information recorded at this stage would include: Preferred number of bedrooms in the property (to determine how many people the service user is prepared to share with) Preferred floor level of the property (to determine any preferences related to security or disabilities which may prevent living on upper floors) Preferred type of heating within the property Preferred bathroom facilities within the property (e.g. is a bath required or is a shower cubicle adequate?)
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 11 of 19
Telephone connectivity preference within the property Internet connectivity preference within the property Any other varying factors of importance
Typical flat-sharer preferences recorded at this stage will include: Preferred age group of co-occupant Preferred sex of co-occupant Preferred smoking habits of co-occupant Preferred sexual orientation of co-occupant Preferred work schedule of co-occupant Pet preferences
This information would then be stored securely on a database, along with the service user’s contact details. When a suitable property became available to let, Orchard & Shipman would then carry out searches on existing database contacts to identify any possible matches or close matches suitable to flat share. Whilst matches would not be limited to those profiles matching all of the variables, the best possible matches would be identified and the SU advised of the details (excluding names) and preferences of those closely matching their profiles. Provided all parties were in agreement, a viewing would be arranged for service users to visit the property and meet potential flat-sharers. Provided that all parties were happy with both the property and the potential flat-sharer, arrangements would then be made to create the relevant tenancies and move the occupants in to the property. In addition to the usual start of tenancy documentation Orchard & Shipman issue to all tenants, a separate document on “How to be a good flat-sharer” would be issued to all tenants entering into a tenancy in a shared flat. This document would give specific information relating to the expected etiquette and behaviour of communal living. This would contain guidance on the shared use of communal facilities, such as living and dining areas as well as the use of kitchens and bathrooms. The document would also include guidance on noise, visitors and other issues that may affect flat-sharers. Where appropriate, the Young Person’s Housing Options Guide would also be promoted as a useful resource for advice and information related to young people and their needs. By ensuring that flat-sharers already have an existing positive relationship, or by matching people through shared interests and preferences, prior to beginning their tenancy, it is hoped that this, along with guidance issued, would minimise the potential for flat-sharer disagreement requiring mediation. That said, it is acknowledged by Orchard & Shipman that in some instances, flat-sharer disagreement will be unavoidable. With this in mind, Orchard & Shipman would respond to complaints between flat-sharers by arranging for one of our trained, in-house mediators to attend the property and help resolve conflict in the household.
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 12 of 19
At this point, further, more detailed advice and guidance on communal living etiquette and behaviour would be given to all parties, specific to the problem issues being reported. The tenants would also be advised that it would be in there best interests to work together to overcome these issues, as a failure to do so may ultimately result in one or more of them being unable to sustain their tenancy, particularly if there is evidence of unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour towards others in the property. In extreme circumstances, where other options have been exhausted and there is evidence of a tenant perpetrating anti-social behaviour against a cooccupant, it may be necessary to serve notice to end the tenancy of a service user. At this time, appropriate support, advice and guidance would be given to all tenants in the property on how best to handle the situation. Orchard & shipman would continue to provide mediation services until such time as any disputes had been resolved to the satisfaction of all occupants.
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 13 of 19
Key Outcome 4: Save for a deposit
Please set out clearly how you will attempt to ensure that customers save for a deposit – i.e. no longer need to borrow money or use a rent deposit guarantee.
The objective of providing encouragement and opportunities for tenants to save for a rent deposit is to obviate their need to rely on loans or rent deposit guarantee schemes for future private rented sector tenancies. This also promotes financial inclusion and independence by providing an incentive to develop a habit of saving regularly. In this way, the social mobility and life chances of tenants will be improved. Having their own deposit will help people to achieve some of their housing aspirations including obtaining a property of the type and in the location they desire. Advice, assistance and support for tenants will be essential in ensuring the uptake of any scheme for saving for deposits. The scheme will be easy to understand and participate in. Our Welfare & Benefits team will agree and establish a payment plan with tenants that allows them to save regularly e.g. weekly or monthly the money they will need for a future deposit. The payment plan will be reviewed with tenants during interim tenancy visits. The advantages for tenants of saving with a Credit Union will be highlighted: Flexible savings to suit their needs Saving money with the local credit union is easy – account can be paid into locally Savings can also be made by standing order or payroll deduction (where employers offer this) Tenants can have their benefits paid directly into their credit union account Savings are profit returning Accounts can be opened for special occasions such as Xmas or holidays Savings come with free life insurance – if the saver dies, their family may receive as much as twice their savings There is no minimum age for a savings account – children can be encouraged to start saving on their own account Credit unions are supervised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) Credit unions are part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (the FSCS)
We will also seek to establish savings accounts products with Dunfermline
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 14 of 19
Building Society. The Society has a Corporate Social Responsibility dimension which will be keen to encourage people beginning savings accounts and we will discuss with them what incentives may be available for tenants taking up this option. In Scotland, 11% of adults don’t have a bank or building society account, with 23% of lone parents not having an account (Scottish Government figures). We recognise that it is important for individuals to develop skills, knowledge and understanding of financial matters. Financial exclusion is often a symptom of poverty as well as a cause. We will seek to improve financial inclusion for tenants, especially at key transition points in their lives e.g. starting a new tenancy. In addition to saving for a rent deposit, we will highlight the benefits of having a savings account to people. These include: being able to give a prospective employer details of an account into which to pay their salary or wages being able to take advantage of discounts available for paying gas and electricity bills by direct debit
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 15 of 19
Key Outcome 5: Maintain accommodation (including an unbroken series of accommodation)
Please set out clearly how you will attempt to ensure customers successfully maintain their accommodation.
Introduction The key to the prevention of homelessness by tenancy sustainment is a combination of detailed preparation at the start of tenancy and of a responsive management approach. It hinges on building a knowledge of and relationship with tenant households through regular visits and communication. It depends on constant vigilance, particularly by property managers, to note any change or deterioration in a tenant’s circumstances which could destabilise the tenancy. It also depends on prompt action ranging from referral to support agencies to mediation to address issues. Experience has shown that any information which may be available from the Council regarding a new tenant’s circumstances and a record of support services which they are accessing at the start of tenancy can prove invaluable. A risk of eviction is for non payment of rent. The company’s property managers and accounts teams are trained in assisting tenants in completing applications for housing benefit. With good links with the Council’s Revenues & Benefits team, we are able to act quickly on changes of circumstances and rent suspensions. We are also help to assist tenants prepare claims and appeals for backdated housing benefit.
Rent Guarantee for Landlords We anticipate that providing a 100% guarantee to landlords on rent for the first 6 months of the tenancy will assist with facilitating landlords to consider letting to homeless people or those threatened with homelessness. Once the landlord has six months experience of the tenancy, they will be likely to allow tenancies to continue where appropriate.
Campsie Key Strengths Building and maintaining excellent working relationships with both the landlords and the tenants. Results of a recent independent survey of our clients showed that 90% of our customer would choose to work with Campsie again and that 84% would recommend us to a friend.
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 16 of 19
Accurate assessment of maintenance issues providing value for money upkeep of the properties. Our experienced Property Management team monitor both the spend and the quality of the work through agreeing costs prior to work commencing, managing contractors and checking the quality of works completed during their regular property visits. Minimising arrears through proactive account management. Campsie has an annual rent roll in excess of £5m, of which just 1.6% represents arrears. The social housing contracts we manage on behalf of local authorities have us collecting rent on an annual rent roll in excess of £70 million. Minimising voids through providing exceptional levels of customer service and proactive marketing. We have a Head of Marketing dedicated to Brand Identity. Experienced, trained, ARLA qualified staff who are customer focussed and results driven. Wide experience in managing situations outside the remit of the majority of Lettings Agents. Our experience in Community Housing through our parent company Orchard and Shipman plc allows us access to resources usually reserved for Housing Associations.
Ongoing Tenancy Management Seven days after a start of tenancy the Property Manager will visit to ensure that the tenants are settled and that there are no signs that the property has been sublet or abandoned. The Property Manager will assess the tenant’s needs from the original viewing, start of tenancy and the seven-day visit to determine when the next visit needs to be made and if additional support is required. The tenant is also provided with a Satisfaction Survey at this visit to give their views of the property condition and service they have received to date. Regular property visits take place to ensure that: The property is still occupied. The property is being maintained to a reasonable standard. The tenant has not sublet or allowed additional people to take occupation. If there are any maintenance issues that they are addressed. The tenant is settled and happy and is neither the subject of, nor
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 17 of 19
perpetrating, any form of abuse. To check the condition at the end of a tenancy
The company’s standard inspection routine ensures that every property is visited at least every 4 months. Any maintenance or other issues will be noted and dealt with accordingly. More frequent visits – sometimes weekly will be made in cases of irregular payments, complaints from neighbours, unusual maintenance record or where it is clear that the tenant is not coping and requires support. Linking with Support Providers The company maintains a record of contact details of internal services provided by local authority partners e.g. child protection, community safety, environmental health, mediation and ASB etc and liaises closely with these teams where joint working is likely to produce the most effective solution. Orchard & Shipman also maintain a comprehensive record of external support agencies, for example dealing with mental health and drug and alcohol dependency issues which are approved by the Council. For example, when the contract with City of Edinburgh Council began, Orchard & Shipman’s protocol with the Council required all initial approaches to external agencies to be channelled through the Council so that there was a centralised record of assistance provided. As the contract has developed, Orchard & Shipman have been able to set up protocols with support agencies, independently of the Council. These referrals are reported to the Council at the monthly contract meetings.
Summary Orchard & Shipman plc have sound and proven housing management procedures. Our focus is on customer care and ensuring that our service meets and exceeds our contract requirements. We have clear, detailed and robust procedures covering the following: Accompanied Viewings and Sign Up Ongoing Tenancy Management Rent and Arrears Management Handling Neighbour Nuisance and Antisocial Behaviour Promotion to Housing Service Customers Void Management
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 18 of 19
Dealing with Abandoned Properties Prevention of Homelessness Linking with Support Providers
Service Specification – Lot 4: Securing Private Sector Housing 19 of 19