Creating homes and places where people want to live

A Day in the Life...Rent Operations Manager

A day in the life of Steph, Rent Operations Manager

Ever wondered what it’s like to work for Nottingham City Homes? Here, we ask Rent Operations Manager Steph about her job – and she told us about how her team is there to help. Here’s what she said.

“I’m part of the Rents team that was based at Bestwood, but that has been working from home since the start of the pandemic. As well as working – much of the time from a bedroom, as my husband was working from home initially as well, and it wasn’t feasible for us to share the same work space – there have been times over the last year when I’ve had to home school my two children. It’s been a challenge at times!

“My job is to lead a team of eight rent account managers, and they too have had their share of challenges because of the pandemic – some have felt isolated as they live alone, others have been home schooling too, and some have struggled to find the space at home to set up a work space. We’ve maintained services between us, though – we’re a strong team, and we support one another.

“My team is responsible for helping tenants manage their rent accounts – as manager, I deal with the more complex cases, such as, over recent months, people who have been unable to pay their rent because they’ve been affected by the pandemic in a number of ways, from losing their job, to actually being hospitalised with the virus. My key aim is always to support people to get back on track, so they have one less thing to worry about because their rent is sorted.  

“If someone is unable to pay their rent, for whatever reason, we’ll always try and understand their situation, and help them resolve it – but we can only help tenants if they’re willing to work alongside us to resolve the issue. Some people can’t pay their rent because they’re not claiming all the benefits they’re entitled to, or they’re on a zero hours contract and they’re just not getting the hours, or they’re claiming Universal Credit but the amount they get goes up and down as the amount of work they do fluctuates. Plus, when people go onto Universal Credit initially, it can take up to five weeks for them to get any money, so of course they’re going to struggle. We understand that.

“Of course, we also get people who just don’t prioritise their rent, or who live beyond their means – but we’ll always work with our Universal Credit and Tenancy Sustainment colleagues to support anyone who is struggling. We also refer people to external debt advice agencies such as St Ann’s Advice.

“The one huge thing that anyone who is struggling needs to do is engage with us. As long as tenants are talking to us about their rent problems, and trying to find a solution, we’re going to be supportive - and I think a lot of tenants don’t realise that they can put a payment plan in place to clear rent arrears, even if it’s just a fiver a week – we don’t expect anyone to pay anything that they can’t afford.

“Evictions have been suspended during the pandemic. We usually consider eviction due to rent arrears as a failure; we want people to be able to stay in their homes, and evictions are expensive and traumatic for everyone concerned. We even have an Eviction Prevention Panel, made up of people from NCH plus partners such as the Housing Aid and Social Services, to offer all the support we can to try and prevent eviction.

“We do have success stories in the team, too – we had one tenant who was on the verge of eviction, and was ignoring phone calls and texts and pretending she was out when we visited. The case had to go to the Eviction Prevention Panel in the end, and eventually the lady engaged with us – it turned out that she was trying to live off just her wages, and she didn’t earn enough to cover the rent and feed her three children. We supported her to apply for additional benefits that she didn’t realise she was entitled to, so now she has a better income, she’s a lot less worried about her finances and her rent arrears have now more than halved. Best of all, she sees us as the good guys instead of the bad guys!

“Please, if anyone has concerns about rent – call us on 0115 915 4920. We’re here to help.”

Thanks Steph – that’s all really useful to know.