Stone Circle Housing Company, which is a subsidiary of Wiltshire Council, has chosen MRI Sales and Lettings to manage its growing portfolio of rental properties. The Council was facing a range of strategic housing needs which could not be easily addressed by the private rental sector, and established Stone Circle Housing Company in response.
The Company purchases residential property in Wiltshire on behalf of the Council, as a way of meeting housing needs for residents who may otherwise struggle to find accommodation; these include key workers, refugees, and those at risk of homelessness. The Council nominates tenants to the Company who have been identified as being in need, and the tenants then deal directly with Stone Circle Housing Company as their landlord.
By establishing Stone Circle Housing Company, Wiltshire Council is offering a vital lifeline to those who need it most, providing them with high quality and affordable rental accommodation that they may find impossible to secure via alternate means.
New systems to support greater scale
Since its establishment in 2019, Stone Circle Housing Company has relied on the Council’s internal systems and processes. However, as the number of properties they manage approached 100, they realised a standalone system was necessary to streamline the business and allow full control of their portfolio. The Company began an in-depth tender process to identify a suitable provider in late 2022.
Stone Circle initially struggled to identify platforms which would be able to accommodate their innovative business structure and considered a custom-built platform to meet their needs. However, a recommendation from a developer to speak to MRI changed their plans, as Kieron O’Sullivan, Construction & Development Manager at Stone Circle explained:
We had meetings with quite a few suppliers, but we found that a lot of systems are targeted at a very specific type of company, whilst we’re a hybrid of lots of things. We offer private lettings but we’re not a private landlord. We offer affordable rents, but we’re not a social housing organisation. It was quite hard to find anything that was targeted directly at us, particularly as our portfolio is still relatively small.
We were looking at developing our own system, but when we met with a developer, they recommended MRI’s system which they thought would tick all our boxes. We spoke to MRI who suggested Sales and Lettings in addition to some plugins, and that seemed like the best route for us.
Centralised data for a better tenant experience
After an in-depth procurement process, Stone Circle Housing Company chose MRI Sales and Lettings to manage their property portfolio, and the team is anticipating significant improvements in their process efficiency once the new platform is launched.
“At the moment our systems aren’t working very well; a lot of information relies on spreadsheets, and nothing is centralised”, explained Kieron.
It makes sense to have a single system with all our information in one place, both for onboarding new members of staff, and for improving our tenant experience going forwards. MRI seems very intuitive to use and everything works as you’d expect it to, which is important to us in terms of growing our team.
A new model for affordable housing
Stone Circle Housing Company’s innovative business model is successfully helping key workers, refugees, and individuals at risk of homelessness access high quality affordable housing in Wiltshire, and the company plans to expand considerably over the next three years.
The cost-of-living crisis is creating a greater need for our properties, so we’re scaling considerably, and very quickly. This means we can provide tenants who may have lost their homes with a route to securing affordable accommodation.
With their implementation phase beginning soon, Stone Circle Housing Company is confident that MRI Sales and Lettings has the features it needs to scale its services effectively.
We don’t really fit the profile of a lot of other landlords, so it was quite hard to find something that did what we wanted. Working with MRI, everything has been very straightforward. We’ve built a good rapport with the team, and everyone is focused on getting things done. We’ve experienced a massively increased demand in the past year or so, and we’re working hard to build the capacity to meet that need – we’re keen to be up and running as soon as possible.
With thanks to StoneCircle Housing Company and Wiltshire Council.