We have significant experience managing the complexities associated with tenancy and property management transfer in a regional centre.
Between 2005 and 2007, we worked in partnership with Housing NSW to transfer tenancy and property management services of over 297 properties in the towns of Mudgee, Gulgong, Rylstone and Kandos in Mid West NSW. This property management transfer included almost all social housing in the area.
Since 2007, we have had full management and financial responsibility for the ongoing responsive, cyclical and planned maintenance, and tenancy services of these properties.
Secret of our success
We established a dedicated transition team, reportable to the CEO and Board of Directors, to ensure effective oversight and delivery. The transition team was effectively resourced, and a detailed transition plan with key milestones and reporting arrangements, was implemented. The transition team worked with FACS to develop a phased handover plan as the local Housing NSW office was closed, and leases and former FACS employees were transferred.
This plan supported us to move into a new area, establish a local presence and lead the delivery of services.
The priority – and measure of overall success – was to ensure service continuity with no drop in service quality.
Tenancy management services
As part of the agreed property management transfer, all Housing NSW tenants were offered the choice to transfer to Housing Plus. Those that transferred were required to sign a new tenancy agreement. There was significant consultation and communication with tenants and local partners during this process including: face to face visits; the establishment of a 1800 information number; media activities; community events; and tenant advocacy.
The aim of these activities was to dispel rumours and fears by providing accurate and timely information for affected tenants and partners, thereby ensuring a smooth transfer, no drop in service standards, and maintaining the reputations of both FACS and Housing Plus.
Property management services
As part of the transition, a survey of all properties was conducted to establish any maintenance backlog and to agree future maintenance plans with LAHC. Capital contributions from the Department of Housing and Housing Plus supported delivery of maintenance programs to bring properties up to agreed standards. Renewal proposals were developed for consideration by LAHC to ensure long-term retention of value in the assets and better meet the changing needs of the area.
As part of the transition, it was agreed that the LAHC maintenance contract would continue with the existing head contractor, Pro Group, for 18 months. The maintenance service contract was re-procured to ensure service continuity. Throughout this process, we fulfilled all obligations for responsive maintenance and property condition under the Residential Tenancies Act, residential tenancy agreements and lease.
Access and demand services
As a result of the management transfer program, we became the primary access point for access and demand services in the Mid West NSW region, assisting people to seek safe, secure and affordable accommodation. A phased withdrawal of services was agreed to ensure service continuity. Services include face to face assessment and advice, and remote application assessment using telephone, MyHousing self-service tools and the Housing Contact Centre to:
- Manage applications for housing assistance under Housing Pathways (Homes)
- Manage the NSW Housing Register (Homes)
- Facilitate access for clients requesting assistance with Rentstart, including: the Rentstart Bond Loan; Advance Rent; Rentstart Move; and Tenancy Assistance
- Facilitate access to temporary accommodation.
Whole of location networks and services
As the primary social housing provider in Mudgee and surrounds, we support a number of key groups and networks:
- Mid Western Regional Interagency Group: this group brings together community services, welfare agency employees and other members of the community in a collaborative environment to:
- Share information pertaining to the delivery of services within Mudgee, Gulgong, Rylstone and Kandos
- Share resources
- Identify and promote collective priorities
- Develop strategies to identify and address priority issues and target groups
- Support the development of new services.
- Mudgee Homelessness Brokerage Group: this group coordinates brokerage for the homelessness service. Membership includes Housing Plus, Mid Western Regional Council and other NGOs. Regular meetings with FACS are organised based on individual case requirements.
- The Mudgee People Against Violence Committee: this group is committed to awareness raising, community education and integrated service responses to domestic and family violence in the Mudgee and Mid Western Regional Council area. The committee provides education about all forms of violence and its effects on women, children, individuals and families to:
- Promote strategic and collaborative work practices that support an integrated response to domestic and family violence
- Support better justice responses to domestic and family violence
- Support education, training and professional development of committee members and service providers
- Promote and support early intervention and prevention strategies aimed at ending domestic and family violence
- Facilitate a voice for children in domestic and family violence
- Identify gaps and monitor emerging trends in the area of domestic and family violence.