Case Study

Tenancy Sustainability Case Study: Stonewater and SafeStart

“SafeStart PTFAs are great value for money; a fantastic proactive service which provide the cornerstone of our activities”.

Stonewater manage 32,500 homes in England for over 70,000 residents, delivering good quality, affordable homes to people who need them most. With around 1,850 lets carried out each year, ensuring that prospective tenants are disclosing accurate information is a priority for sustaining tenancies and placing tenants in the right homes.

In order to facilitate this, Stonewater use MRI SafeStart’s Pre-Tenancy Financial Assessments (PTFAs). Holly Edwards, Head of Lettings at Stonewater explains how SafeStart is used by her officers:

“As part of our application process, Stonewater want to ensure that our tenants get off to the best start and are able to sustain their tenancy.  As part of this therefore, we carry out an affordability assessment which looks both at the customer’s incoming and outgoing monies as well as any current debt or liabilities they may have. This enables us to have frank and honest conversations with our customers on how they might afford the rent and costs of living in their new home and support them best by signposting them to additional support when needed.”

For Holly, the SafeStart PTFAs “are an integral part of our allocations and lettings process, both to ensure we support our tenants and also protect Stonewater from the possibility of rent arrears. We mainly look at the customer’s credit score, any bankruptcy or CCJs, IVAs and unpaid bills that may come back to the customer and cause them financial hardship.”

The results garnered from SafeStart can “prompt more delving conversations” with prospective tenants, starting officers on the path to providing additional support in order for them to secure and maintain a tenancy with Stonewater.

At the other end of that spectrum, SafeStart PTFAs have unearthed concerning information not offered during the application, enabling officers to alert customers to debt they may not be aware of or may not have considered the impact of on their overall financial position. In some instances, this can lead to the refusal of tenancies to individuals based on a lack of affordability as it isn’t the right time for them. Holly describes one notable case where, “we were forced to refuse someone who had £27k of credit card debt, which they hadn’t declared to us and felt wasn’t an issue in affordability.” Stonewater were then able to signpost that individual and offer the right support to resolve the debt into a more manageable amount so they could come back to us when they would be best placed to sustain the rental on a new home.

The SafeStart solution works by gathering information from multiple data sources, which is collated into a report on a prospective tenant’s financial history. Described by Holly, the SafeStart PTFAs are, “really easy to use and used for all new tenancies. They are great value for money; a fantastic proactive service which provide the cornerstone of our activities. We wouldn’t think about looking anywhere else.”

Greg Andrews, Head of Customer Experience at MRI Software commented, “It’s fantastic to hear how Safestart Pre-Tenancy Financial Assessments are underpinning the application process at Stonewater. We look forward to continuing to work with Holly and the Lettings team to support the sustainability of their tenancies “.

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