The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have seemed impossible only months ago. The lockdowns designed to limit the spread of the virus have fundamentally changed the lives of millions of people across the world and may have changed the way we live and work forever. For Housing Associations, the lockdown brought about an immediate change in the way they interacted with their tenants. What do you do when it’s no longer possible for people to pop into your office to pay their rent or for your housing officers to make house visits?
"My Home is also of immense benefit to staff. It’s positive for tenants but a godsend to staff, especially during lockdown."
For Ochil View Housing Association, the implementation of Housing Online’s My Home portal was timely. The Clackmannanshire-based Housing Association celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2019 and pride themselves on their responsive customer service. The lockdown in March meant that the planned April implementation of My Home was delayed as the Housing Association focused instead on setting their staff up as best as they could to work remotely supporting their tenants. Rental income dropped precipitously and claims for Universal Credit tripled as more and more people were furloughed. For Housing Services Manager Linda McLaren, when My Home went live in July, it came at a very good time.
“Staff suddenly didn’t need to access the remote server to see tenant information on rent, repairs or anything. Suddenly, we were mobile working in real time, without the 2-3 day delay you get with paper based forms.” Better still, with tenants now able to pay rent directly, report repairs and view the details of their tenancy on the portal, it did not matter so much that the office remained closed.
As Linda says, “We’ve had so much positive feedback from tenants. My Home is easy to access, easy to navigate, practical and paperless. Rent payments through My Home have been brilliant. People are seeing what they owe and are able to make a payment on the spot without needing help from anyone. My Home is also of immense benefit to staff. It’s positive for tenants but a godsend to staff, especially during lockdown. It really is the best thing ever and will continue to be the best thing ever even after we’re back in the office”.
"We knew we didn’t have to worry: we knew we would not have any outages and we knew that Housing Online would give us great support"
Things were slightly different for Ayrshire Housing. “We went live with My Home about two years ago,” says Performance and Quality Manager Caroline Donald. “Since its launch, we have seen a substantial increase in online payments through My Home, with many tenants also using it to make dependent changes to their accounts and to read notices and announcements”. This meant that, when lockdown came, Ayrshire were already well prepared to support their tenants remotely. “We coped without too much drama. We had to make changes, of course, but we were able to put notices out to all our tenants about the new ways of working almost immediately. My Home looks great and works great. We knew we didn’t have to worry: we knew we would not have any outages and we knew that Housing Online would give us great support”.
Visit our website to discover more information about the My Home portal and about Housing Online’s other services and contact us to arrange a demo.