Portia Maddison is one of believe housing’s frontline staff who has been adapting new ways of working during the coronavirus pandemic, she’s been sharing her experiences.
“Our team was lucky to be chosen to test new ways of working last year. This meant that when coronavirus hit, we were already geared up to work away from the offices, as we’d been doing this for a while.
“In my role, we don’t have a typical day and our tasks can vary and change rapidly depending on priorities.
“This means we are able to respond effectively, meeting varying demands and supporting our customers.”
“After making some calls to customers, I set off for my first two appointments at 9.45am, ensuring that I have the correct PPE and key safes with me.
“I meet a joiner and gas fitter outside the first home, where the previous tenant has moved out, before giving permission for work to be done. Once they have completed their tasks, I will check the property and take internal photos for our records. I complete the paperwork and take an external photo so the property can be advertised through Durham Key Options.
“Every time that I’m in a particular area, I also check surrounding gardens to ensure that none are overgrown or untidy.”
“I arrive back home at 11.30am and complete two tenancy change requests. These appointments would normally be completed at the customer’s home. During the coronavirus pandemic we’ve been completing them by video call with the customer where possible, or over the phone. The video calls also include a full view of the home, to check that there are no problems.
After speaking to more customers on the phone, I arrive at a home viewing at 1.45pm. I check the property to ensure that there are no issues and that the property is ready to let. Again, our working methods have changed due to the pandemic. We can’t show customers around the property and maintain social distancing. Instead, I leave tenancy agreements on the kitchen worktop and wait outside while the customer views the property.
“I’ve already explained everything to the customer before their viewing, so that they are aware of what they need to do next. That includes how to arrange for gas to be reconnected and what to do regarding benefits or council tax. I go through this again after their viewing to answer any questions or queries they may have.”
“I also ask the customer to download the believe housing app so that they’re able to log repairs and other issues quickly and easily.
“My second viewing is a new-build home. Again, I follow the same procedure of checking the property to ensure there are no issues and leave the paperwork on the kitchen counter.
“At 3.45pm I arrive back home and deal with some of the behind the scenes work for the homes that have been let so that we can start the tenancies.
“The rest of my day is spent talking to customers on the phone and by video call, before I finish just before 5pm.”