HomeSwapper Case Study: How Optivo facilitate mobility through mutual exchange
One of the largest housing providers in the UK, Optivo cater for tenants in London, the South East and the Midlands. Their focus is on creating safe, sustainable communities for their residents, alongside local authorities, partners and the tenants themselves.
As part of this approach to their residents’ satisfaction, Optivo also facilitate their tenants’ mobility through mutual exchange. This has become the primary option promoted to tenants when they contact their housing officer for a move, due to mutual exchange being more cost-effective for landlords than re-letting an empty property.
In order to ease this process for residents, Optivo became members of HomeSwapper back in 2009 via Viridian Housing and AmicusHorizon. As Ryan Ward, Head of Lettings at Optivo says, “Compared to the other mutual exchange site available, it’s the most user-friendly and the most recognised by tenants, as well as having the largest coverage of all other sites. Altogether, this gives tenants the best chance to move.
“For housing providers, it has a number of benefits. Firstly, that it’s tenant-led, which means the tenants themselves get out of it what they put into it.This is a key point for tenants as well, as with HomeSwapper they’re empowered to facilitate their own move. A tenant with Optivo told them:
“Using Homeswapper has really helped me, I was finding it hard in my flat after having a baby but seeing all the places I could move to in one place gave me hope I’d find somewhere right for me and my family. After a few months of looking and messaging people I found someone to swap with. It was really easy to do and I tell my friends about it as I think some people think it’ll take years to move.”
For Ryan, it’s also about getting the right people in the right properties. He explains that, “Through HomeSwapper, we are also able to identify tenants that are under-occupying or overcrowding and enable them to make the changes they need to, to ensure a more comfortable living situation.
“In addition to empowering residents, through HomeSwapper we are also able to support vulnerable tenants that haven’t qualified for the housing register to find somewhere else to live. Through the option of mutual exchange and the possibility of using HomeSwapper, we have also been able to encourage tenants to pay off their arrears, if they want to take up these options. With HomeSwapper, we are required to re-evaluate and approve a tenant’s account every six months, which serves as a means of keeping track of any changes to the household. As a system, Optivo consider HomeSwapper an essential option for our tenants.”