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.
During the Covid Pandemic, Stonewater worked hard to maintain ‘Business As Usual’ as much as possible by continuing to offer their homes with safety measures in place. Using digital sign up paperwork, safe socially distanced contractor work and virtual sign-ups were among the many changes implemented, however it was important that some things remained the same and that included MRI Social Housing’s SafeStart pre-tenancy reports.
Whilst there was an urgency to get people into a safe environment and homed suitably to their needs, Tenancy Sustainability was still factored into the process and using the credit checking facility provided by MRI Social Housing played its part.
The SafeStart report is a soft search of finances but gives Stonewater an idea of the tenant’s financial history which means they can work with Income Team and other external agencies to ensure tenants are supported and able to maintain their tenancy moving forward.
Stonewater recently processed a couple where the report showed they were high risk as they had defaulted on some repayments and had some County Court judgements. The housing provider always look at each case individually and speak to customers about how they have arrived in the situation and what mitigating circumstances can be taken into account.
This particular couple didn’t know about some of the debt and were quite upset and were sure a mistake had been made. Stonewater worked with them and established that a family member had unfortunately used their details to take out credit and not kept up the re-payments. Once the initial upset had settled, Stonewater along with their support worker, helped them to speak to Citizens Advice and the National Debt Line.
They were able to get the advice and support they needed and set up re-payment plans and Stonewater were able to offer them a tenancy. The couple are now in their 3rd month of tenancy with their rent paid up to date.
Without the MRI SafeStart pre-tenancy financial assessment, the customers may not have known about the debt building and things would have gotten worse, potentially resulting in them not being able to secure a tenancy for them and their children in the future. Lettings team leader Nicola Henderson from Stonewater commented:
As we continue to move through uncertain times, with increases in fuel costs and further cuts to customer benefits, the MRI SafeStart checks we conduct and discussions they enable in terms of affordability having never been more important.
With thanks to Nicola Henderson, Lettings Team Leader at Stonewater for supporting this case study. If you’d like to know more about how MRI’s pre-tenancy solutions can help your organisation, visit our MRI SafeStart page.