How we work with landlords
Central to our ethos at Housing Partners is our close working relationship with our customers. Collaborating on the development of products and ensuring that they are used to their fullest extent by those who buy them are key factors that we are told, set us apart.
HomeSwapper, our flagship product is the largest mutual exchange system in the UK and landlords partner with us to provide their tenants with a platform for swapping their homes. Whilst the site is designed primarily to empower tenants to source their own mutual exchange, built into HomeSwapper are a multitude of tools that also serve to support housing officers in their role, reducing voids and ensuring best use of housing stock.
Supporting landlords in their use of HomeSwapper, Customer Support Team member, Debbie spends her days speaking with housing officers and offering on-the-spot, informal training on HomeSwapper. We spoke with Debbie about what this entails and what this means to landlords…
First of all, what is your role in working with landlords?
Generally speaking, I’m the main contact for HomeSwapper landlords; I’ll give them a call, touching base with them every three months and speak to staff – the ones who actually use the platform day-to-day.
We’ll actually log into HomeSwapper together, so I can check if they’re happy with what they’re doing, if there’s anything else they could be doing to get more out of it – generally just offering support.
For me, it’s about phoning a colleague, having a chat and making sure they’re getting what they need out of it, which ultimately works to help the tenants as well; if the landlord knows their way around the software, they’re going to be able to support tenants even more.
Tell us about some of the landlord features you go over in your calls…
First and foremost, if I’m talking to landlords, we talk about RightSize. This is a tool within HomeSwapper that helps landlords to proactively make best use of housing stock. Within the system, you can see stock that is over or under occupied and a landlord can then click a button to recommend a certain home within HomeSwapper to a tenant with needs that match it. The landlords that I speak to are blown away by it!
We also talk about Advertise a Void, which generally deals with empty properties that are hard to let. Landlords can put these onto HomeSwapper themselves and select the audience they want it to appear in front of. It’ll then go into the normal matches system within HomeSwapper and when it appears in a tenant’s matches, it’ll be highlighted for them. It’s a really great way for landlords of filling empty properties.
Landlords also usually find the reporting tool really helpful. The HomeSwapper data report is a spreadsheet that lists every single tenant that a landlord has on HomeSwapper – that’s all the data that a tenant has put into HomeSwapper! So a housing officer can use it to filter the data in any way they want. Some have used it to get up-to-date contact details for tenants, while others use it for mail merge campaigns. With the reporting tools, landlords can also check how tenants are using HomeSwapper, which they tell me is also a great way to check the value for money of providing the platform for their tenants.
The final thing that really impresses the landlords I speak with is showing them how they can login to a tenant’s account. When they’re logged in on their landlord dashboard, they can find the tenant in question, login and then support that tenant directly if they need to make amendments to their profile. This is such a useful tool and a lot of landlords don’t realise they can do it!
Tell us about how the HomeSwapper team help out with tenant events…
With the tenant events generally, we’ll send out merchandise, including take-aways, leaflets and information on HomeSwapper. I’ll also help promote it for them, by putting an advert onto the dashboards of that landlord’s tenants with information about the event, while our marketing team will circulate it on social media.
If we’re available – and depending on how much notice we’re given – we’ll do our best to attend the event as well. If we do go, we like to send two members of staff, as they get fairly busy! We take materials and a laptop and talk to tenants, helping them to register on HomeSwapper, showing them how to put photos on their account, and anything else they need help with!
What’s the biggest difference that HomeSwapper makes to landlords?
For me, it’s just a really useful piece of software. HomeSwapper does everything for you; you can work through different areas, depending on what your priorities are and get so much information out of it!
I’d hope that it’s lessening the number of tenants that go to landlords with queries because everything is there to support them. The queries we’ve been getting on the Customer Support Team from tenants have gone down significantly since we’ve started providing more materials and developed a dedicated tenant support site.
A lot of landlords also say that they really appreciate our calls. If they have the time to have a quick session over the phone, it really does make their job that much easier!
What would you like to see landlords doing more of within HomeSwapper?
Just logging in and looking at it! We send out notification reminders to landlords to login and have a browse – there’s just so much more in there that they can have a play with and use to their advantage.
Also, I want to encourage all landlords to call us more! They know there’s a friendly voice at the end of the phone and one little call that might be about resetting a password can escalate into a 45-minute call about the functions they can use within HomeSwapper to make their lives easier.
We’re their friends and we’re always happy to talk to them!
A reminder for landlords, that the landlord Customer Support Team number is 08456 187 162 if you’d like to give us a call and have a chat through any of the functions of HomeSwapper. For any help and information on using HomeSwapper as a landlord, please do take a look at our dedicated landlord site here.
If your tenants have a query, please do direct them to our tenant support site here or ask them to email us directly firstname.lastname@example.org where we can give them step-by-step written instructions for any elements they need support with.