South Tyneside Homes has been commended for its use of digital technology in delivering services to its customers.
The organisation, which manages and maintains 18,000 properties on behalf of South Tyneside Council, has been named among the top 10 digital housing providers in the country.
It was placed seventh on industry news platform Housing Digital's list of providers, who 'through thoughtful engagement with technology, reacted and responded to the challenges of the pandemic so they could continue to meet the needs of their tenants'.
Judges praised the launch of an automated phone service to check the wellbeing of isolated and vulnerable residents; the introduction of virtual property viewings, and the use of technology to enable staff to work flexibly.
Cllr Ed Malcolm, Chair of South Tyneside Homes' board, said: "South Tyneside Homes had already been going through a significant digital transformation and the Covid-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst to further improve how we use technology for the benefit of both residents and staff.
"We've had to come up with some innovative solutions to the challenges posed by coronavirus on how we do business, continue to deliver services efficiently, and ensure our tenants remain safe and well.
"We launched an automated phone service to support vulnerable and isolated residents, making 22,000 calls and adopting this into our everyday working practices with our sheltered accommodation.
"We've also used technology to improve rent collection and provide support to people struggling with paying, resulting in over 300 fewer tenants in arrears in the last 12 months."
Internally, the company invested in equipment and facilities for staff to work effectively which will be supported by a new ICT strategy aimed at improving services further through the pandemic and beyond.
Judges said: "South Tyneside Homes have clearly made a brilliant step forward with the use of automated calling, as well as the impact it's had on tenant engagement."