In order to reduce the number of Derwentside Homes tenancies fail due to rent arrears, ASB & lack of life skills, especially in the under 25’s, we developed and deliver sign up induction sessions.

The induction is designed to give the best possible advice & assistance to improve the success rate of new tenancy & to improve the knowledge & overall well being of our tenants

The outcomes are to:

  • Improve the sustainability of tenancies
  • Increase Awareness of Derwentside Homes & its services
  • Establish trust & good working relationship with tenants
  • Improve Financial Capability

The sessions are held weekly each Friday morning to introduce new tenants to their team of Derwentside Homes staff and partners that will assist them with the upkeep of their tenancy. The staff involved are tenancy service officers, welfare rights officers, tenancy Income officers, employability officers and resident involvement officers. The partners involved are Durham County Council housing benefit officers, Durham and Darlington Fire Service and Prince Bishop Community Bank.

The tenants are given a PowerPoint presentation which covers and helps them understand:

  • Types of Tenancy Agreement – their rights and where to sign
  • Pay to Stay Rent Payments and Recovery process. – weeks payment in advance, methods of payments contact advice if having difficulty paying
  • How to Make a claim for Housing Benefit – benefit forms available and staff help to complete
  • Derwentside Homes Welfare Rights Service – staff available for advice and assistance
  • What as a tenant they can expect from Derwentside Homes – Repairs, capital works, dedicated tenancy service officer, estate inspections, help to keep their tenancy. Gas and Electricity checks, handyman service and SHED (social
  • enterprise that helps with gardening, decorating and odd jobs)
  • What Derwentside Homes expect from them as tenants – pay rent, report repairs, not to cause nuisance, keep house and garden tidy and how to contact us for help
  • Resident involvement and Community investment and Projects
  • Credit union/Community Bank – all new tenants are given the option to sign up for Prince Bishop community Bank with Derwentside Homes giving the £1 to open the account
  • Low cost furniture from our award winning STORE which allows tenants to buy and pay weekly for furniture at a lower cost than Brighthouse
  • Home fire safety checks

Tenants receive a New Tenancy Folder containing the tenancy agreement and leaflets covering the following:

  • Derwentside Homes My Home Booklet
  • Paying your rent/setting up a DD
  • Contents Insurance
  • Menu of involvement
  • Tenancy Enforcement
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Handy Man
  • The Store & SHED
  • Energy saving
  • Who does what: DDC/Derwentside Homes
  • Useful telephone numbers
  • Latest copy of Home News
  • Illegal Money Lending Team
  • Prince Bishops Community Bank

The induction sessions started in January 2012, the offer letter requests that they attend and an incentive is that the decoration vouchers are given at the induction. We have seen a 90% take up with those who don’t attend being elderly or not able to take time from work. In those instances officers visit their homes at a time suitable to the tenant.

The session have shown value for money as sign up time is focussed to one morning, officer time and mileage is reduced, because the local authority officer attends the housing benefit verified and is assessed within 3 days of sign up which prevents arrears accruing, no tenancies’ have failed within the first 6 months and customer satisfaction with the induction session is very high.

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