What we promised - rent and payments
- Improved Money Matters support
- Develop and pre-tenancy programme which would be offered to new tenants
- Commitment to separate out service charge costs from rents to increase accountability following consultation with tenants
- Only introduce new services for which a charge is payable following consultation with affected tenants
- Rent would continue to be protected and would move towards target rent in the same way as others who have transferred from the Council at the time of the stock transfer.
- Rent increases would still be subject to the Governments rent increase guidelines.
- RBH would guarantee that for 5 years following the transfer transferring tenants (excluding sheltered support services charge) annual rents would not increase by more than permitted under the current government policy. This would include those who move home to another RBH property.
- Regularly review ways in which tenants are able to pay their rent by the most effective & efficient method. Any changes to be introduced only after tenant consultation
- RBH, in consultation with tenants will consider whether to continue to collect water charges as part of the rent, when the existing contract with United Utilities comes to an end in March 2015
- RBH will negotiate with the current contents insurance provider in order to ensure… tenants possessions remain covered. When the contract comes up for renewal RBH will involve tenants in choosing an insurance company.
What we've delivered
Our rent increases have been subject to Government guidelines; this has meant that in the previous two years, rents have decreased by 1% each year. We have honoured our five year guarantee.
We've consulted widely with our tenants about the easiest way to pay rent. As a result, we've increased the number of ways that our tenants can pay. This includes the introduction of a new payment kiosk at our St Alban's House customer centre. We've also made it easier and simpler to pay rent via our website.
We've increased the number of tenants paying by direct debit from 21% to 42%. This is the most efficient way to collect rent and it means that we have more income available to support our customers. We now aim to sign up new tenants for direct debit or standing order when they sign up for a new home with us.
Following the formation of our New Tenant Team in April 2015, we developed a new pre-tenancy programme. All incoming tenants are offered a consistent service including pre-tenancy assessment, affordability checks, accompanied viewing and sign up. The New Tenant Team is now part of our HomeChoice team which has improved our service to customers.
RBH now has dedicated Money Advisors and as a service we are FCA certificated. This means that we can better assist tenants in better managing their debts and helping with Welfare and Benefits advice. Last year, we helped our most vulnerable and disadvantaged tenants gain £891,000 through debt and Welfare Advice
The Money Advisors have been relocated to the Rents and Payments Team and has improved identifying tenants that would benefit financially from this service. As a result referrals have increased. The Money Advisors have been able to give expert advice to tenants facing changes due to Welfare Reforms. For example they undertook the recent Benefit Cap campaign and aided tenants to better manage this transition which meant a drop in income for many.
We now have introduced recognised systems to record and evidence the work we are doing to improve the lives of our customers. We are able to record and measure the gains we have made for our tenants and for RBH.
Our previous insurance scheme expired at the end of March 2017. The tender exercise attracted two tenders. These were discussed with The Procurement Team, the Rents Manager and tenant representatives. The tender was awarded to our current supplier Aon (Broker) and Aviva (Insurer) with improved cover and a 10% reduction in premiums. A £10,000 marketing budget has been granted by Aon & Aviva to help promote the scheme.
Some of our highlights...
Launch of "Let's Share"
In November 2016 we launched our pioneering "Let's Share" scheme. These shared apartments give young people the chance for future housing and will provide welcome security when further changes to the welfare system are introduced.
The scheme has quickly become recognised as ground breaking and has attracted lots of attention from other housing providers.
Our first tenancies have so far proven to be successful - rents and bills are being paid and one tenant has now found full-time work!
Making It Easier And Simpler To Pay
We've responded to our tenant requests to make it easier and simpler to pay their rent. We've opened our payment kiosk at St Alban's House and we've doubled the number of tenants who pay by direct debit - making it more convenient for our customers and reducing the transaction charges paid by RBH, which means we have more money to spend on our services.
Making Our Rent Statements Open And Honest
We've made our rent statements clearer and more transparent - the statements now identify clearly what our tenants are paying for.
Your Most Memorable Moments
Getting involved in our celebrations
In April, May and June we'll be sharing with you what we're done to keep the 50 promises we made when we took over ownership of the homes formerly owned by the Council. We’ll post information online and via social media and invite you to send in your ‘Most Memorable Moments’ (your MMMs) of the past five years.
Your most memorable moment might be something that was life changing - like moving into your home or starting work for RBH. It might be something that had a big impact: new kitchen or bathroom or meeting a new neighbour or colleague. It may be something that was difficult: the floods last Christmas spring to mind or an emergency repair. It might be equally be something very simple.
We want to know what stands out in your memory. We want to hear your stories. We will add your MMM comments and photos to each promise to create an online album to share everyone’s experiences. We will showcase the album at our “All Together” Annual Members Meeting on 12 September.
As an added bonus, everyone who submits a memory will be entered into a draw to win £200 in shopping vouchers!