Yarlington have been digital partners with Active Housing since 2016, in which time the organisations have worked together on a number of projects. The Yarlington Onboarding project aimed to digitise the tenancy application process, from pre-tenancy registration to property offers and application forms, through to the automatic creation of a full portal account upon successful completion of the tenancy application process.
Who are Yarlington?
Yarlington Housing Group is a large housing association in the South West of England, with over 23,000 customers. Yarlington is a strong leader in the housing sector, particularly around digital sefl-service, and in 2019 won ‘Digital Landlord of the Year’ at the UK Housing Awards.
Completing the pre-tenancy process required a lettings advisor to call up the potential customer, offer them a property and go through a paper form with them over the phone or in person. This was often extremely time consuming for both parties, and because the application was paper based, it was difficult to amend, open to human error and had no audit trail. In addition, any evidence or proofs would have to be brought to the Yarlington office, scanned and attached to the paper form.
This is why the organisation wanted their process to change. Switching to an online process would increase efficiency thus saving money, provide a full audit trail and potentially reduce the number of voids.
The new solution lets pre-tenants register for a property using a unique pin provided by the Allocations team. After registering, they can view the details of the property they have been offered and accept or decline. If accepted, the user can access the application dashboard in order to complete the application forms.
Tenants are also given a time frame (eg 48 hours) to complete their forms, in order to speed up the process of getting a tenant into an unoccupied property. This means the property can be offered to another prospective tenant in a timely manner should the first applicant not proceed within the allotted time frame. Once the user has applied for the property, they can also log into the portal at any time to check the status of their application, as well as viewing details about the property they have been offered.
As this was a large complex project with a number of key stakeholders, a phased delivery plan was agreed so that the functionality could go live as quickly as possible, and to enable flexibility for changing requirements. In the phase 1 launch, potential tenants were able to register for a pre-tenancy account, view a property offer and then accept or decline a property. In phase 2, they were able to add their household details and address history, and fill out the affordability and expenditure forms. In phase 3 of the launch, they were able to add any ASB / crime cases, health information, proofs and agree to the terms & conditions of the tenancy.
The benefits of using a phased approach meant that Yarlington could see how their customers were using the forms online, and then use this feedback to make continuous improvements as required.
Yarlington's property shop.
It became apparent to the team early on in the process that the paper based form which was set to be digitised did not capture all of the information required by Yarlington. Often the Allocations team would collect extra information as and when required, and append it to the paper application form. They overcame this challenge by using dynamic form fields which can expand to capture additional information. An application dashboard with save & return functionality was implemented to ensure the process was not overwhelming for the user.
Results & Conclusion
In only 3 months since launching the solution, over 60% of property offers and applications are fully digital.
Overall, this project was a success for all stakeholders involved. It meant that Yarlington were able to increase the efficiency of one of their key customer processes by saving time and effort for both their staff and customers.