Five minutes with Sennita | News

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Social Heart, Business Head, Local Impact

Five minutes with Sennita

1) What does your role involve?

I manage the Income Team. We are responsible for collecting rent – more than £26m last year. We use this to invest in existing homes and build new ones, helping tackling London’s housing crisis. We have been providing affordable homes in one of London’s most affluent areas for over 50 years.

My team ensures residents are aware of their responsibility to pay rent on time. Most of them do – in fact more than 95%.  We also advise residents on how to avoid falling into arrears. Above all, we want to help our residents sustain their tenancies and have a happy, stable and secure home environment - this is more important than ever.

My role involves implementing new methods to increase income collection, reduce arrears and make the payment process more efficient, simpler and user friendly for residents. For instance we now use software that allows us to spot very early on if someone looks like they might be getting into arrears. That mean we can work with them earlier before a small problem becomes a big problem. I also co-ordinate with other with other departments to provide the best possible resident experience.

Covid has been particularly challenging and I am really proud of the difference my team has made. We have been in active contact with residents since lockdown and rent arrears have remained stable which is good news. Despite this, we are concerned that this could change when the Government furlough scheme ends. We’re reassuring our residents that we will work with them, provide support and remain in close contact with them during this time. We encourage residents to contact us as soon as possible if they are struggling or think that their circumstances may change.  


2) What skills are required for the job?

You must be passionate about helping, supporting and advising residents. We do everything we can to help our residents become debt free, sustain their tenancies and pay rent on time. Therefore, negotiation skills and problem-solving skills are required. Associated with this, being sensitive, understanding and empathetic of residents’ circumstances is necessary.

Finally, as this is a customer facing role, you must also have strong interpersonal skills, listening skills and multi-tasking skills.


3) What do you most enjoy about your role?

Primarily, I enjoy the fact that my team and I are able to help and  support our residents. A recent example of this is is when a member of my team who was dealing with a Universal Credit arrears case found out that a resident was walking several miles each day to a friend’s home because his benefits stopped, he didn’t have enough money to pay for food and utility bills and was also dealing with a recent bereavement. The Income Officer supported the resident by attending multiple Job Centre appointments with him, reinstating his benefits and ensuring that he received foodbank vouchers.

My close contact with residents means that I am able to build relationships with them. Subsequently, this is a good way of better understanding our residents and communities and impacts how respond to their needs.

Finally, I feel that the role enables me to constantly learn and evolve. There are always opportunities to develop skills through training.


4) What’s your favourite thing about working for the Shepherds Bush Housing Group?

Having worked here at Shepherds Bush for seven years, I have met many amazing people. Not only have I learned so much from my colleagues, but I have also developed great friendships. This is important to me and beneficial during our busiest months as we work well as a team.


5) Do you have any advice for aspiring Income Managers?

I’ve always wanted to work in income management since I started my career in housing nearly ten years ago. As someone who is results driven, I like the structure that comes with income management.

My biggest tip would be to constantly ask your manager questions and ask to be involved in as many projects as possible. This will help improve your skills.

Additionally, continue learning about the industry, stay up to date with the latest news and understand changes in legislation. This will further your knowledge and impact on the strategic decisions your make.

Finally, as the role involves negotiation, learning the art of negotiation would be highly beneficial.


6) What is your favourite quote?

My two favourite quotes are:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude” - Maya Angelou.

“When they go low, we go high” - Michelle Obama


7) What is your favourite song and why?

Anything by Prince! ‘The Beautiful Ones’ and ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ are some of my favourites. In my opinion, Prince was one of the last exceptionally talented musicians - his music evokes lots of emotions and memories for me.  


8) If you had to delete all but 3 apps from your smartphone, which ones would you keep?

I would keep Jazz FM for relaxing, Kindle for the times I forgot my Kindle and finally Instagram because why not – please don’t judge me!

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