Image Promo description

Register to use our site and access free newsletters, book events and lots more.

You don't have to be a member to use our site. Already registered? Login here

Become a member today

The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

The Art of Creating Sustainable Lettings (AKA The Pre-Tenancy Service)


When I used to allocate properties in the “good old days”, I’d ring the local authority to ask for a nomination. As if by magic, a day (or so…) later the office fax machine would whirr into life and there would appear - on that thin, slightly crinkly fax paper of yester-year - 3 names of potential tenants / customers – or “city noms” as we so charmingly referred to them in those days.

With the scant information – name of nomination, numbers, genders and ages of children - from that sometimes barely legible fax, I let my voids as quickly as I could. I had a good relationship with my in-house voids team and the local authority allocations department and mostly pleased my managers by meeting that Prince of KPIs: The Voids Lettings Target.

You will have deduced from my Methuselah-like meanderings (and references to fax machines…) that this was all a good number of years ago.

Today, as a freelance consultant, when I go in to social housing organisations to review allocations and lettings services, I look for evidence of pre-tenancy work being an integral part. Why? In a nutshell, because I have realised that the Prince of KPIs is, in fact, trumped by the King and Queen of KPIs: The Tenancy Sustainability Target.

I’ve realised that it’s a fool’s game to bust a gut to get the voids let as quickly as possible if no consideration is given to “how can we minimise the chances of that property becoming void again?”

And there you have the rationale for the pre-tenancy service: what can you as the landlord do to work with applicants (agreed that they are an easier category than nominations!) to create sustainable tenancies?

As a bare minimum, you want to know that a new tenant can afford to pay the rent. One organisation I worked with told me that they did the rental affordability check at the post-sign up visit, 4-6 weeks after the tenancy had started. They had just visited a new tenant the week before I was there, and the affordability check showed that the tenant couldn’t afford to pay the rent. Stable doors, horses anyone…?

But rent is only part of the picture of a creating sustainable tenancies: what about having the skills to manage a home or to manage money? What about access to furniture? What about training, skills and employment opportunities – improving life chances?

How many landlords are quantifying the risk of the likelihood of tenancy failure (and all the cost that that incurs) and doing something about it or just basking in the reflected glory of having met the Prince of KPIs…?


Cath Davies

cd consulting

M: +44 (0) 7914 095 383 (UK)
M: +353 (0) 89 977 9536 (Ireland)

Please log in to comment

Your comments

No comments made yet

Join today

We’re here to help you make a difference. Join CIH today and discover your potential


Fire safety

All the latest info and fire safety resources for housing professionals


The new housing apprenticeships

With a century of experience equipping housing professionals with the skills they need to do the brilliant work they do, we can help you make the most of the new housing apprenticeships – whatever stage of the journey you are at.