Paid in full: putting residents in control

29/03/2021

HACT and rent-flex have published a White Paper exploring the benefits of flexible rent services for both residents and social housing organisations.

Andrew van Doorn, Chief Executive of HACT, said:

“Rent arrears and tenancy sustainment are growing challenges in our sector. Recent estimates suggest arrears will continue to have a significant impact on the income of housing associations into next year. At the same time, we know that social housing residents are facing increasing economic hardship, and many are struggling to pay their rent every month.”

“This White Paper looks at rent-flex as an empowering solution to tenancy sustainment challenges. As a platform that gives residents the opportunity to develop personalised rent payment plans for the year ahead, our White Paper finds that the benefits of rent-flex, for residents and the wider business of social housing organisations, are extensive, helping them to deliver on their social purpose.”

These are the key findings of the White Paper, Paid in full: Putting residents in control, that HACT published today, supported by rent-flex.

Damon Gibbons, Executive Director, Centre for Responsible Credit, who has led the development of rent-flex, said:

“Rent-flex has been developed with the active involvement of social housing tenants.  Many of them face reasonably predictable ‘financial pinch-points’ in the year, such as at Christmas.  Others have volatile incomes.  By personalising rent payment schedules to reflect the reality of peoples’ lives, rent-flex can reduce the need to borrow (often at high-cost) to makes ends meet.  

And the new digital platform we have created allows tenants to indicate what other financial support they require and alert their landlords easily to any changes in circumstance over the year.  

We are really excited that the digital scheme is now live for trialling with Optivo and look forward to developing further trials in the sector.”

The White Paper draws on the results of a rent-flex pilot with Optivo tenants to determine the key benefits of the service. These include:

  • Improved engagement: tenants liked the concept of rent-flex and were more likely to engage with it than with existing financial or budgeting support services
  • Increased financial benefits to residents: as part of the onboarding process residents were able to be engaged with budgeting support and income maximisation services which yielded significant benefits.
  • Improved rent payment: residents who completed twelve months of rent-flex in the manual pilot paid 98.4% of their contractual rent, compared to 90% of the control group.
  • Improved relationships and satisfaction: there was an increase in inbound contact from residents using rent-flex, as well as greater success with outbound contacts, and the quality of conversations with tenants increased. Overall, rent-flex boosted resident satisfaction levels with the organisation.

“The evidence indicates that rent-flex could help housing providers reduce the costs of rent collection, improve cash flow forecasting increase visibility of rental income and target tenancy sustainment initiatives at those most in need,” Andrew van Doorn continued. 

“rent-flex also has the potential to transform the landlord-tenant relationship by creating a joint planning approach to the management of rent payments, whilst simultaneously improving residents’ financial resilience, health and wellbeing, and giving them greater control of their finances and lives.”

The rent-flex platform will shortly be available to other social landlords for testing. We are inviting expressions of interest in developing further trials. 

To express your interest in taking part in the second pilot series, please contact Billy Holt.

[notes to editors]

About HACT

HACT partner with organisations across the social housing sector to drive value for residents and communities. We do this through insight-led products and services that encourage innovation and foster collaboration.

We see the limitless potential for social housing providers to create lasting, transformational change, and we provide forward-thinking solutions and technologies that enable them to do this.

Working in partnership, we support them in embracing business transformation and building data driven organisations. We help them realise their true social value by informing ever-smarter, more resilient and efficient ways of working.