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TriPartum worked with Community Housing Cymru (CHC) to deliver a workshop on 19th February in Cardiff aimed at understanding the requirements being placed on Housing Associations and Local Authorities as a result of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.

Speakers were:

James Shand, Managing Director, TriPartum Limited – Chair and facilitator for the event.

Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive, Community Housing Cymru who opened the event highlighting this new partnership with Commercial Partners to bring the membership insights and information to help deliver services.

Bethan Galdwyn, Senior Associate, Hugh James, Cardiff looking at what needs to be done in order to meet the landlord’s obligations as a result of the Act and the anticipated timeframes.

Simon White, Head of Housing Strategy and Legislation, Housing Policy Division, Welsh Government outlined the current position with the work being undertaken to create illustrative contracts based on the legislation passed by the Welsh Assembly.

Mike Prager, Technical Director, TriPartum Limited who delivered a demonstration of a technology solution that is available to help Housing Associations and Local Authorities deliver on their requirements with regard to the reissue of tenant contracts based on the new legislation.

Complying with the Act

Bethan gave the audience some insight on the actions that they need to consider in order to comply with the Act. There were specific examples highlighted along with discussion on the implications for failing to comply. Effectively the key messages were;

  • When the date for implementation is announced there will be a 6-month window in which to comply and deliver on the requirements.
  • There will be two types of contract – new tenants and existing. New tenants will simply be issued with contracts using the new wording. Existing tenants will need to be issued with new ‘versions’ which incorporate the new wording plus any existing clauses tenants might rely on.
  • To achieve the new version contracts, it will be important to understand what clauses currently exist with tenants to understand what clauses might need to be carried over. This is work that can start now rather than waiting for the 6-month window to deploy.
  • There is a lot to be done in preparation so don’t leave it until the 6-month window. Start the process now and be prepared.

Requirements for the Act

Simon gave an update on the status of the requirements for the Act with a focus on the clauses which will be displayed in the illustrative contracts. Key messages were;

  • Communication to tenants about what is happening is going to be key to avoid confusion.
  • The Act is seeking to offer clarity on right and responsibilities.
  • Fundamental clauses are those which are mandatory in all contracts and should not be amended.
  • Supplementary clauses are recommended to be included in all contracts BUT there is the option to amend or remove as long as the result favours the tenant.
  • Additional clauses are those to be added related to specific properties or converted across from existing tenant terms.
  • There MUST be some form of explanatory notes included with the contract by way of helpful notes for tenants.
  • At this stage the date for implementation has not been set. The Abolition of the Right to Buy becomes law in January 2019 so the earliest date is expected to be April 2019 or even as late as October 2019.
  • The creation of the illustrative contracts is to reduce the administrative burden on landlords.

Technical Solution

Mike demonstrated a technology solution to generate and deliver new contracts and revised (version) contracts. This is based on an existing technology supported as part of the TriPartum managed services for CCM (customer content management). Key messages were;

  • You can set-up the required versions of contracts with a simple batch process.
  • When you open a version of a document you will be presented with the clauses for specific types of contract which can then be amended as required for the different versions with a dynamic WYSIWYG interface.
  • You can identify clauses which you do not want amended so they would be protected.
  • Uploading the personal details for tenants is manged with a simple .CSV files to process in batch mode.
  • Draft pdf images are available to checking via an approval workflow before submission for delivery across appropriate channels.
  • All channels are available to deliver the contract documents on notification they are available – paper; SMS; email and secure document exchange.
  • The secure document exchange facility provides access to a secure portal where tenants can access their documents. There is also a mobile app to access and upload content. It is a two-way channel so documents can be captured and sent back to the you by tenants – such as proof of identity documents

The aim of the platform is to make the process for delivering contracts to tenants as simple as possible with a technology interface which will provide a complete audit trail across multiple delivery channels.

Summary

There is no doubt that fulfilling the requirements of the Act will take time and potentially considerable resource in identifying the content of existing tenant clauses in order to provide revisions which reflect the tenants’ rights today.

Whilst there will be a six-month period to deliver the requirements, once the date has been announced, it would be prudent to start work prior to this in order to understand the scope of what is required.

Everyone is looking to technology to ease operational costs with processes to deliver on VfM (Value from Money) objectives. The TriPartum solution will help meet this objective, especially with the initial delivery of contracts to all tenants.

Due to the Act providing for tenants to seek compensation from landlords for failing to comply with the requirements of the Act, particularly where they feel they are in a worse position, audit trails will be critical in defence.

GDPR will add a further level of complexity to the process where landlords are seeking to deliver documents electronically to save cost. This will need to be undertaken in a secure way which is the essence behind the TriPartum secure document exchange as part of the electronic channel delivery.

James Shand, Managing Director, TriPartum

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