Our Housing team has come of age over the past 12 months as they rose to the challenge of tenanting hundreds of new properties which were constructed as part of the Nation Building program.
We now provide tenancy and property management and maintenance services to more than 1200 homes throughout Victoria across the long-term Affordable Housing Association (AHA) and Transitional Housing Management (THM) program areas.
The transitional nature of the THM program regularly brings new challenges for tenancy and property managers. With a portfolio of 205 properties across the Loddon Mallee Region, team members work closely with a range of support services to provide positive outcomes for tenants and their families.
In 2012-2013, we housed 283 singles and families in transitional housing. The average length of tenancy was 335 days before most transitioned into long-term public, affordable or private rental housing.
The AHA program also faced some major challenges towards the end of the financial year. Increased demand for long-term affordable rental accommodation across the state has resulted in a change in the way in which we manage applications for housing.
With the number of interested applicants on our database far exceeding the available vacancies, we decided to move to a Choice Based Letting model whereby available properties will be advertised locally as well as on the internet. All eligible applications, including those from people already on our database, will be considered as part of the allocation process. Choice Based Letting is more transparent and aims to provide more choice for prospective tenants about where they wish to live.
The significant growth of our diverse housing portfolio has resulted in a review of policies and work practices to ensure we continue to provide quality customer service to our tenants.
The main focus has been on implementing consistent file management processes across all our offices and reducing vacancies and arrears.
We have also embarked on the implementation, monitoring and compliance reporting of Essential Safety Measures across 12 locations within the state to ensure Fire Saftey Compliance for our Apartment buildings.
Maintenance is a crucial and significant part of our housing business. The maintenance team has been working with an external consultant from TXM for the past 12 months to implement a business improvement or systems management process known as Lean.
The Lean approach encourages all staff to think ‘leanly’ i.e., is there a better, quicker way of doing things and to work together to problem solve to ensure continuous improvement in our work.
This year we also created a range of YouTube videos to help address the Top 10 maintenance issues.
To further support our tenants we developed a tenant e-newsletter and held information sessions for those people living in our multi-unit apartments.
Feedback from tenants helps to drive our continuous improvement, so every two years we conduct a major survey to gauge their satisfaction or otherwise regarding the AHA program.
The 2012 survey was broken down into six key areas: demographics, tenancy matters, communication, maintenance, infrastructure and planning, and customer service. Tenants are also given the opportunity to provide commentary against survey questions.
Overall, the results were very pleasing; however there is always room for improvement.
One way we have begun to improve our service delivery is to strengthen and increase staffing levels.
Our Mildura office now boasts a full complement of housing program and an additional Community Engagement Worker (CEW).
We now have three CEWs operating across the state who roles it is to provide leadership in a place management and the development of vibrant, thriving and well-connected communities.
The Geelong office now has a Team Leader for Tenancy and Property Management and will soon have the added administration/reception support.