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Lancaster City Council reduce void days by 59%

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Results & ROI

Implementation activity is ongoing however so far the following benefits have been achieved and continue to improve:

  • A 59% reduction in median void days
  • Total annual rent loss reduced by 46%
  • Median rent loss per property reduced by 38%

The Client

Lancaster City Council covers a large and varied geographical area including the city of Lancaster, coastal areas including Arnside and Silverdale AONB, to small rural villages bordering the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.  As with all councils they face a reduction in funding and increasing demand on services, and therefore want to make sustainable improvement to work practices.

The Challenge

LCC asked us to conduct a pilot review of their voids and lettings process to help achieve their aim of being the exemplar council for voids and lettings performance.  Improvements had been put in place to reduce the backlog of void properties and rent loss was starting to reduce as a result.  However, local lettings and under-occupation policies meant certain properties were becoming harder to let.  Flooding in November 2017 also resulted in a high number of decants.  The additional resource required to manage these decants when returned could have undone previous improvement efforts, which were largely focused on resourcing to reduce the backlog, rather than improving the overall process.

The Approach

We undertook diagnostic activity with core representatives across the process to understand current issues, process and performance before moving forward to problem solving and process redesign.  We found that whilst most activity in the process was appropriate, the visibility of upcoming voids and triggers for activity were happening too late and meant days which could have been used pre-void were lost.  Roles and responsibilities for activity, e.g. viewings, varied depending on the point the void was at in the process. This resulted in reorganising work between teams with potential negative impact on the customer.

The process was redesigned to ensure the pre-void period was utilised and transfers, making up over 30% of void properties, had a standardised approach.  The flow of the process was improved by allowing tasks that previously happened on set days once or twice a week to happen at any time as and when they were required e.g. advertising.  The team also implemented a visual voids tracker to support frequent meetings between the teams involved in progressing voids.

The Benefits

With activity to find the new tenant starting earlier, the majority of standard voids now have a tenant identified and ready to move in once void work is complete.  The improved flow of properties through the process means there are fewer voids in progress at any one time, and therefore better visibility of problem properties which can now be dealt quickly before they accrue high levels of rent loss.

Time previously spent on wasteful activity reorganising tasks between teams has been put to better use adding customer value such as telephoning successful applicants to discuss the property and help them decide whether to view and offering Pre-Vacation Inspections as a service to all outgoing tenants to help them move out and leave the property in a good condition.

“Ad Esse added expertise, but also focus and rigour to the task of improving our voids and lettings process. Staff felt engaged in the project from the start, and rather than a ‘quick fix’ solution the improvement in void times and working practices give all the signs of being sustainable.”

Peter Linsley, Service Support Manager