Sustaining Tenancies

Approved by Board March 2017

Foreword

The purpose of this story board is to provide an insight into NPT Homes’ contribution to enable our tenants to sustain their tenancies since the last self-assessment.

 

We understand our customers’ current and future needs and provide services and facilities that meet individual needs

 

Assessing need before they become customers

A financial assessment is undertaken by our Financial Inclusion Team at the housing application stage to help ensure the tenancy is set for success. Assessments are focused on customers who receive benefits, are subject to the bedroom tax, in low paid employment, have former tenant arrears, or are likely to be affected by the forthcoming Local Housing Allowance cap. The aim is to check if a customer can afford to maintain a tenancy and budgeting and benefits advice is given. 170 affordability checks have been undertaken so far for 2016/17.

 

Customer needs for floating support services

For those who become a tenant - assessment, planning and support requirements are addressed to ensure vulnerable tenants can access the range of services shown in the diagram. Access is sometimes through NPT Homes support services and other times by support providers working in the community.

 

Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council currently has a contract with NPT Homes to deliver tenancy support and older persons’ services to enable tenants to live independently and prevent problems occurring in the first place or provide help as early as possible in order to reduce demand on other services such as health and social services. Between July and December 2016, the Support Services worked with 222 tenants.

 

Case study

A 54 year old woman was referred for support due to the risk of homelessness because of non-compliance with a Suspended Possession Order. A brain injury affected her ability to manage her affairs meaning that she was not managing her money, not paying her priority debts and she was not attending all of her medical appointments. A successful application for Discretionary Housing Payment reduced her arrears and by following budget plans she was able to pay her rent. Sustainable payment plans were set up with creditors. She still lives in the property, her arrears have reduced substantially and she is making regular payments

 

Intensive Housing Management

This service provides Intensive Housing Management to identified tenants to help them meet the requirements of their tenancy and in turn ensure their tenancy is sustained. This is achieved by working together with a tenant to effectively manage their tenancy by:

  • Agreeing a Personal Housing Plan

  • Agreeing arrangements to remedy breaches of tenancy conditions

  • Regular contact to support the changes that are to be made

  • Providing advice on all aspects of sustaining a successful tenancy

  • Signposting to and facilitating support offered by other services e.g. help with finances and budgets, help from other voluntary agencies

 

 

In 2016, 124 tenants received an Intensive Housing Management Service; of these 115 are still tenants, only 9 are no longer tenants.

 

 

Case study

Intensive Housing Management was provided because of a long history of poor home conditions. For many years there have been a variety of professionals working with the family in an attempt to improve the conditions but the family has not been able to sustain them. Support has been provided since January 2014 with staff working alongside other agencies as part of multi-agency plan to improve conditions and enable the family to remain in their home. Home conditions have now greatly improved and the home is always clean and tidy. The tenants are proud of what they have achieved, this has improved their self-esteem and given them confidence to address other issues in their life.

 

Disabled Adaptations

Tenants and their families will sometimes have physical problems that without intervention may result in them leaving their accommodation. To prevent this and to improve their quality of life we assist with a range of adaptations and have a budget of £1m per annum to undertake this work. In 2015/16 we undertook 684 adaptations and between April and December 2016 we completed 508 adaptations.

 

Money Matters (Financial Inclusion Team – FIT)

To help tenants manage their money and keep control of their finances, we have an in-house Financial Inclusion Team who provide advice on a range of money matters including:

  • Benefits and their changes
  • Helping with benefit appeals
  • Digital/online advice
  • Problems paying utility bills
  • Opening bank accounts
  • Budgeting
  • Food Bank vouchers
  • Financial assessments at housing application stage to address any affordability issues

 

Appointment based Money and Benefit Advice Surgeries are held at our satellite offices one day per week. Tenants who are unable to attend one of our offices due to ill health or mobility issues can ring for advice or request a home visit.

 

The team opened 439 benefit cases between April and December 2016. Of the cases that went to appeal (where the tenant had been originally declined the benefit), the team had an 88% success rate. £2,431,508 of extra benefit was generated for our tenants between April and December 2016, helping those tenants sustain their tenancies.

*2016/17 data pro-rata based on April to December figures

 

Understanding the reasons why people leave our properties

There are a number of reasons why tenants leave our properties. Some are in our control e.g. decant while major works are being carried out, others are not e.g. where the tenant has passed away.

Work has been undertaken to analyse why people leave properties and examples of the reasons are given below. It can be seen that the percentage of people evicted has halved from 6% in 2015 / 2016 to 3% in 2016/2017.

 

We continually improve access to services for our tenants and leaseholders

Co-Design Projects

NPT Homes is committed to working in true partnership with stakeholders using co-design and co-production methods. Recent co-design projects include the evaluation of Haven Housing and the review of the Tenancy Support Service. Both focus upon understanding the needs and views of our tenants and how we can improve access to services.

 

Haven Housing Evaluation

In 2015 our sheltered housing tenants took part in a co-design project for the service. This resulted in the service being re-designed. Our sheltered housing complexes were re-launched as Haven Housing along with the support element, Bridge, in April 2016.

Following the launch it was agreed to evaluate the impact again using a co-design approach and based on what tenants felt was a perfect community. A group of Haven Housing tenants drove the project forward by promoting it, gathering residents’ views and are now in the process of analysing the results for each scheme.

For the aim of providing support and independence, 114 tenants said that they were very happy/happy that NPT Homes met the aim, 35 tenants said they were unhappy and 4 said they were very unhappy that NPT Homes met the aim.

 

More work will be undertaken by the project group to delve deeper into the results and they will work with other tenants to find ways of improving the service.

 

Access to our homes is fair and open

 

Allocations system

In 2015 a review of our allocation and lettings process was undertaken in partnership with the Council. During the review we identified ‘what mattered’ to applicants and considered how people access our homes to ensure that it is fair and open.

 

During the review applicants told us what was important to them about the service. They said:

  • Let me know what is happening

  • Help me understand the process and listen to my needs

  • Help me get the accommodation to suit my needs – location, size, type

  • Honesty – I would rather know if I can be housed where I want before the process starts – don’t waste my time

  • Speed of Process (End to End)

  • Keep the forms and process simple

  • Let me know if I can afford to live in the property

Here are some of the changes that were made as a result:

 

We now measure satisfaction with the service based on what our applicants told us was important to them.

Work is ongoing as part of the review of our lettings and allocations process so that the process is smooth, the time taken to assess applications is quick and that we avoid waste. We will be considering the availability of information so applicants are well informed about their real chances of being rehoused.

 

Case Study

A disabled amputee who was confined to a wheelchair contacted the team for advice on re-housing. A visit showed that he was living in one room and the property could not be adapted to allow access to all facilities. He was also threatened with homelessness because he had lost his job and there were mortgage arrears. A property was identified; following the recommendations of an Occupational Therapist a few minor aids were provided. The family accepted the offer which was made outside the Homes by Choice Scheme in accordance with the Shared Lettings policy (adapted accommodation).

 

Both landlord and tenant know their rights and responsibilities

There are three types of tenancy offered by NPT Homes.

 

For new tenants, tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities are included in a sign-up pack which is handed over when the tenant receives the keys for their new property. Visits are undertaken by Tenancy Relations Officers to new tenants 6 weeks after they move in. At this visit a discussion takes place reminding tenants about rights and responsibilities, the Officer will answer queries about the tenancy and check if the new tenant is aware of repairs reporting and other obligations.

Our team of Tenancy Relations Officers are usually the first point of contact for tenants (other than the repairs service). They provide advice or will take action depending on the situation. If support is required to sustain a tenancy they will make the necessary referral and/or sign post the tenant to the most appropriate organisation.

The implementation of the Renting Homes Act (Wales) should result in a more simplified system with the majority of current tenancies and licences being replaced by two types of Model Occupation Contracts:

Secure - based on Local Authority Tenancy Agreements (Periodic) Social Landlords

Standard - based on Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements (Periodic and Fixed Term)

Plans are in place to prepare for the change which is expected to be in April 2018. An important part of the plan will be communicating the changes to tenants using a variety of communication channels.

 

Action Plan