Monday, 26 May 2014

Living Wills (In A Box)

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Living Wills are the latest thing for housing asset management professionals to be thinking about, and your wider board. There has been a growing interest in a number of regulated sectors in the benefits that can come with the use of formal recovery and resolution plans, which are commonly known as living wills.  These are documented plans to ensure an effective recovery or a rapid and orderly resolution in the event of material financial distress or business failure.

A number of my customers in the housing sector are analysing assets in a pre-emptive look at how to prepare for future uncertainty. Housing IT can assist in this area, by identifying poorly performing areas of stock. Also by correlating other local data, such as local ward crime maps, susceptibility to floods, radon or other hazards, desirability, amount of void churn etc. It is possible to rate these factors to easily identify stock outside of the norm, the first resort for sale in the event of uncertainty. A number of legal organisations are attempting to provide advice on this area. Trowers' overview can be viewed here

The housing organisations most at risk are those that have diversified beyond the conventional housing remit. Many organisations these days are looking to shore up revenues, by expanding repair service, service charges or as is becoming more and more popular b2b (business to business) services. The degree of these on an organisations balance sheet is an indicator to the degree to which living wills should be considered. It has been suggested that 5% would be a suitable figure, although many forward thinking housing groups, I suspect will be way beyond that level.

Preparing an active 'Living will' plays an important role in securing tenants interests. This is assurance that social housing assets would be protected in the event of a landlord getting in to financial distress or a business/governance failure. Moves to implement this were started over a year ago - . Julian Ashby, chair of the HCA regulation committee, back in April 2013, said the regulator is ‘open-minded’ about how to achieve its objectives. Mr Ashby, in his foreword to the document, says: ‘This document is designed to start a period of intensive dialogue with the sector.’

At the time of voids becoming active, the costs of refurb, preparing to let etc, coupled with other environmental factors, might mean that your Living Will policy may trigger a sale. More on that here

Being prepared is no bad thing and easier with some forward planning. Do you really know your assets from different angles? Would you be able to quickly identify a few million pounds worth of assets to divest if needed, and know they were the optimum ones to unload? Why not speak to your asset team and see how they are using IT and available data to develop a picture of your assets? Your managers may be well on top of it, alternatively they may need some help, soon. Living Wills may be required by more lenders into the future, all RP's and RSLs need to be prepared.

Read On To : Keystone Sold

You can link with me on LinkedIn here - It would be great to connect !

Living In A Box.

(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

PS As usual, if there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

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