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    There’s a lot of traditional thinking about collecting rent and managing rent arrears.

    Firstly, they are two different things. One is a condition of tenancy and the other is debt collection. They have different approaches, different terminology and different ways of managing change or disruption. Dealing with Universal Credit is a prime example.

    Your own approach, style, mindset, culture and corporate philosophy are absolutely crucial. Why don’t tenants do as they’re told? Why don’t they reply to letters, answer calls and keep to arrangements?

    These are all chosen actions, or behaviours and there are techniques that recognise how to deal with the inherent difficulties, turmoil and judgements that people make. We know this is right, because we all do them at some stage.

    The philosophy should be simple. If 100 people work in your organisation, how many are responsible for getting in the rent? The answer = 100. You are all rent collectors. The reasoning is easy – it’s your business, your revenue and the financial foundation that creates and cements the contractual landlord/tenant relationship.

    Direct housing benefit was an ideal solution to ‘safe revenue’ but its consequence created a gulf in the rent payment responsibility narrative. It’s where “I don’t pay rent” comes from. Universal Credit challenges that mindset and in doing so challenges traditional practices.

    Training courses should be honest, interactive and thought-provoking ways that are fully inclusive. Not only good value for money but in the way that they are relevant to anyone in your organisation. If it’s rent, then it’s important. It’s income. It’s a corporate priority even in the best of times.

    We have two important messages:

    1 Course description must describe how rent, its collection and arrears management become corporate rather than just the responsibility of a department, job title or function. Everyone should be exposed to key messages to enable full, meaningful contribution. It becomes an ethos across the organisation. It’s called The Rent Ethic.

    2 Course content will recognise the obvious. Arrears are problematic and the remedies can be severe. So, it’s important to focus on ‘getting the money in’ rather than ‘getting the tenant out’. This enables an honest, balanced conversation that does not dwell on how to evict a tenant.

    We think that this is a message we can all share.