As well as looking after your homes, we want to help take good care of your neighbourhoods. By keeping your local areas clean and tidy, and by supporting you to manage your tenancy successfully, we work with you to build a stronger community.
Reviewing our service
This year, the Gateway Membership Team, which represents tenants, commissioned an independent consultant to lead our residents in conducting a scrutiny review of our grounds maintenance and cleaning services. We helped facilitate these reviews by holding meetings with the scrutiny team and drawing up a report of their findings.
The report and resident feedback showed us that there were a number of actions we needed to take in order to improve our estates service. We addressed these issues in a range of ways, including making the service more transparent by creating a poster that outlined the standards you could expect from us and our partners. We also used our community events as an opportunity to engage with more people, to ensure that our staff were discussing these key services with the residents who are most affected by them.
The report also found that some tenants wanted to be more involved in monitoring the delivery of these services, so we are recruiting residents to participate in reviewing the quality of the work delivered by our grounds maintenance and cleaning contractors. In addition to taking on board feedback from all of our residents, this scrutiny group will help us as we look to appoint a new estates services contractor during 2018/19.
Reducing property re-letting times
When somebody moves out of one of our homes, we have to undertake any necessary repairs before we can let it to anyone else. As the nationwide housing crisis continues, it’s vital that we do our best to reduce waiting times for these properties so that people can move into their new home quickly. Importantly, making sure our re-letting times are as short as possible also means we deliver better value for money for all of our residents, by cutting the length of time that we aren’t receiving rent on the property.
During 2017/18, we worked to reduce the time between a property becoming empty and new people moving in. One of the ways we achieved this was by working with local partners such as Watford Borough Council to place priority on vulnerable people who most needed a home. As a result of our work, most of our properties are now let to a new tenant in around nine days on average.
Tackling tenancy fraud and supporting our tenants
This year, we undertook 687 tenancy audits. These involve one of our Neighbourhood Officers visiting your home to inspect the condition of the property and ensure we have the correct information about your household. As well as improving the quality of our data, tenancy audits help us to keep your community safe by identifying cases of fraud. As a result, we can claim these properties back for people who need them, as well as saving us money and deterring criminals. Tenancy audits also help us to identify people who could benefit from additional support from us.
Helping you manage your tenancy
With the introduction of Universal Credit last year, it’s been important for us to help you stay on top of your rent payments. In the last six months alone, our Tenancy Support Officers have helped over 150 people to access more than £100,000 in additional financial assistance.
In order to support our tenants on Universal Credit, we offer support and guidance, and can help you work out a sustainable future payment plan. As a result of our commitment to this during 2017/18, we managed to ensure that the level of rent arrears owed to us was the lowest it’s been in eight years.
Coming up next year
- We will be reviewing our Independent Living and Flexicare service, making sure our schemes are modern, comfortable and fit for purpose.
- We will continue working with our tenants, including resident inspectors and our scrutiny group, to decide on the terms of the new contracts for our grounds maintenance and cleaning services, before appointing new contractors..
- We will introduce Neighbourhood Area Plans, focusing on improving and enhancing the three key local areas identified by our Asset Investment Model.