Housing corporations

Doing business responsibly.
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The Housing Corporations (Reform) Act devotes, for understandable reasons, a lot of attention to governance in the sector. The Act’s central concept, ‘back to the core’, is manifested in strict regulations for board members, more influence for local authorities and occupants, and a more restricted freedom of action and assurance than previously. Mergers and other strategic business moves are followed closely by the regulators and evaluated on the basis of a revised range of instruments.

This gives rise to a need for risk management. Internal business processes, the development strategy and risks posing a threat to continuity should be critically reassessed and recorded in a paragraph on risk. Raetsheren can act as a partner in dialogue for this, not only in defining the various risks but also in managing them.

To that end, Raetsheren provides extensive services, ranging from knowledge sessions on a variety of risks to getting various things on the board’s agenda, from risk-transfer and the risk paragraph, through procurement of insurance solutions, to possibilities for guiding mergers.

A few years ago, there was a fire at a housing corporation. In it, just about everything went wrong which could go wrong.

Diane Biersteker, Raetsheren’s Segment Leader for Housing Corporations

What is possible and what is desirable.

“The biggest challenge for the corporations at the present time is how exactly to respond to the requirement to return to the core of social housing. Now that the focus really comes back again to social letting, it means that the (cost) efficiency of building and management must be examined more closely than ever. But it also means a change in the financial risks: how to find the ideal balance between retention of good quality housing and the affordability of such housing for the vulnerable target groups.

Our service provision can help here, with the aspect of managing claims. With our focus on risk management and claim processing, we can improve the corporation’s efficiency. And, together with the corporations, we can take this further with tailored solutions: complete outsourcing of claim processing, case management, repair, financial processing, administration and reports.”

Every client is unique

“It is in every corporation’s interest to chart the risks properly and ensure they are adequately covered. We aim to achieve optimisation of the internal processes and to make risks as manageable as possible. Our service provision starts on the operational side. We can manage the entire insurable risk portfolio using three major angles of approach: personnel, operations and assets. In this, our approach is that each client is unique.

We start by making a risk inventory: Who are you? What is your attitude to the market and your entrepreneurship? What exactly do you do? What do you consider important? Do you do anything special? From there, we look at what is possible and what is desirable, based on our own expertise and on benchmarks: what is the rest of the market doing? This results in a recommendation, in which we always include a number of considerations. Because, again, the question is ‘How do you ensure that the risks are adequately covered?’ After that, we start on the implementation of the agreements in a complete and integrated approach: we manage and administer claims, buy in risk with insurance companies and hold meetings periodically about market developments. At the heart of what we do for the corporations is the actual claim processing. Quickly and efficiently in the case of smaller claims, and with broad support for big ones.”

“To give an example of the latter: a few years ago, a housing corporation was confronted with an explosion that started a fire. A disaster in which just about everything went wrong which could go wrong: two people died, about 160 apartments had to be evacuated, asbestos was found to have been released, the media swooped on the case… It was a serious incident for the corporation.

Our service provision does not focus only on the incident

 

Although all the parties acted immediately, there is much to learn from a case like this. For example, it has to be completely clear what is insured and what is not or, in other words, what exactly the corporation is liable for and what risks are for the occupants themselves. In addition, a serious case like this has a major impact on the organisation, while work must go on. Finding alternative accommodation on such a big scale is quite a task. Tenants may be angry with the corporation, or anxious about the consequences of the incident. There may be damage to the corporation’s reputation, regardless of whether it is to blame or not.
In such cases, we not only give support during the incident; we also want to anticipate them. In principle, the risks can be calculated, but they depend greatly on the specific character of the corporation in question. Our approach is therefore based on that. In such a situation, it is important not only to provide clarity quickly, but also to exchange knowledge and experience with our clients and, where necessary, help them prepare in advance. Our organisation is also equipped to deal with this important element.”