“A call from a customer can
change my day”
Katie Beg offers an insight into what it’s like to work as a Home Agent for bpha.
It’s 2pm on a Monday and already Home Agent, Katie Beg, has answered 20 emails, spoken to five customers over the phone, carried out a suitability assessment for a potential new tenant, and looked at rent arrears data to decide which customers need a reminder letter, phone call or visit.
“In this job, there’s no typical working day,” says Katie, who looks after around 600 properties in the Goldington and Putnoe areas of Bedford. “I have routine tasks to do like dealing with rent arrears, signing up new customers or doing home visits. But a big part of my job involves dealing with unexpected issues on the spot.
“A call from a customer can completely change the course of my day. Someone might be concerned that they haven’t seen a neighbour for a while or another person might call to report some rubbish being dumped. It’s certainly a varied role but that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy my job.”
Katie, who lives in Bedford with her partner and three children, has worked for bpha for seven years. She describes the best and worst parts of the job: “I enjoy being out in our neighbourhoods. I have a tower block in my patch and there’s a strong community spirit there. You get to know people and they get to know you. There’s something really nice about that.
“And it’s so rewarding to see people make a home out of the property they rent from bpha. I’ve seen empty shells transformed into lovely family homes. The hard part is when you offer people help and they don’t want to take it. For instance, it’s sad to see someone evicted from their home when it could have been avoided. Those are the situations I struggle with.”
“It’s so rewarding to see people make a home out of what we’ve given them. I’ve seen empty shells transformed into lovely family homes.”
Katie admits that there’s no shortage of people needing social housing in bpha’s geographical spread. “The suitability assessment I did this morning was for a woman with two children. The family have been living in temporary accommodation for a year. She was so happy to be getting a permanent place to live; to give the family some stability. Conversations like that are very rewarding.
“And just recently we partnered with Bedford Borough Council and a local charity to house rough sleepers in homes that have been hard to let – usually one bedroom properties and bedsits. Some of these people are single men who’ve been sleeping rough for a long time, and who haven’t been able to get support elsewhere. It’s an initiative we’re all excited about because it’s making a real difference to people’s lives.”
Katie sums up: “I’m part of a great team at bpha. We do a lot of good work and we’re focused on giving people a good standard of living. Many of my colleagues have been here for a long time and I think that’s because they feel valued, supported and get satisfaction from their work. Put it this way: I won’t be going anywhere else, anytime soon!”
What our home agents do
Our home agents (previously known as housing officers) offer you a range of housing and neighbourhood-related services. We have 29 home agents, who are responsible for supporting residents in a particular geographical area. Here are some of the things they do.
- Responding to your enquiries on email, over the phone and face to face
- Giving support and advice to those in rent arrears, and taking action to recover arrears
- Signposting you to specialist services such as your GP, the police or social services
- Dealing with anti-social behaviour
- Welcoming you to your new home at sign up and visiting you as part of our starter tenancy process
- Presenting cases in court when tenancy action is taken
- Dealing with subletting and tenancy fraud in your community
- Visiting you to check on the welfare of you and your family
- Taking part in multi-agency meetings for safeguarding and domestic violence
- Ensuring you allow important gas safety checks to be carried out
Looking after your neighbourhood
- Carrying out estate inspections and fire safety checks in blocks of properties
- Hosting neighbourhood drop-ins and surgeries
- Working with other agencies such as the police to ensure your neighbourhood is safe