Posts with tag: letting agents

Top Reason for Letting Agent Complaints is Poor Communication for EIGHTH​ Year in a Row

Published On: June 26, 2019 at 9:01 am


Categories: Lettings News


The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has published a report showing that the top reason for complaints against letting agencies last year was over poor record-keeping and communication. 

This is not a new trend either, with the same reason coming second in the 2017, 2016 and 2015 surveys and first in 2014 and 2013. In 2012 and 2011 the most commonly cited reasons for complaints were poor service and poor complaint handling respectively. 

“Communication in particular, as well as record keeping, have for the last eight years been a common cause of consumer complaints against agents,” says Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer of PayProp.

“More worryingly, the problem has worsened since 2015, which means the time has come for the industry to think more carefully about improving communication and record keeping across the board.”

This worrying trend can be easily fixed by adopting modern methods of communication in order to keep clients up to date more efficiently.

“These days, consumers send and expect to receive much of their communications via their smartphones, often outside of traditional working hours,” Cobbold explains.

“The best agencies all step up to meet these needs, providing digital-friendly information that is easy for people to access every step of the way.”

“Of course, the personal element of the lettings process remains hugely important, so agents still need to be available for phone calls and face-to-face meetings where possible,” he says.

In regards to record-keeping, Cobbold adds: “Letting agencies can improve their record keeping by storing everything digitally and using technology solutions for basic administrative tasks to help reduce the margin for human error,” Cobbold adds.

“Being able to see the live status of a portfolio with all the correct and up to date information can help agents to easily provide their clients with a full summary of what is going on, as well as greater visibility.

“This can help landlords and agents to stay on top of all issues and take the necessary steps to manage the tenancy accordingly,” he says.”

Although most agencies receive very few complaints, it is still essential for every business in the industry to identify their most common source of complaints before it becomes a bigger problem. 

Efficient record-keeping is a fundamental part of any business, and in a post fees ban-world where the private rental sector is often a target of the media, letting agents should be doing everything they can to prevent further negative press. 

How Letting Agents Can Help Landlords Reduce Void Costs

Published On: June 19, 2019 at 8:36 am


Categories: Lettings News

Tags: ,

Tenant Shop says letting agents can reduce void costs to landlords if they focus on having the right processes in place.

The leading utility management service says that agents can retain landlord clients by reducing void periods, which is particularly important right now in a time when savvy landlords are shopping around more than ever to find better value for money management fees.

Kent Reliance estimates in their latest study that the typical landlord loses £528 per year due to void periods. They also note that this figure is on the rise due to an increase in the average rent and an increase in the gap between tenancies.

Glenn Seddington at Tenant Shop goes on to say: “Landlords will be looking to minimise lengthy void periods at all costs and letting agents have an important role to play in saving their clients money, ensuring a smooth changeover between tenancies.

“With the tenant fees ban now in force, keeping void costs will be an even higher priority for landlords, especially those who are paying higher management fees as a result of the new legislation.”

How Can Letting Agents Help?

Managing changeovers more efficiently and proactively matching tenants to soon to be vacant properties are just two of the ways that agents can minimise void periods.

“By having the right software and processes in place, agents can help to prevent void periods becoming a serious and costly issue for their landlords,” Seddington continues.

“Tying up loose ends at the end of a tenancy is crucial in saving time and making sure everything is ready for a new tenancy to commence. This includes notifying local councils and utility companies about tenancy changeovers and dealing with stray bills.”

“If agents can automate these processes using the best PropTech solutions, they can save themselves time and keep their clients happy which is a win-win situation for all parties,” he says.

Retaining landlords is crucial to agents’ survival

In a world of banned fees, higher government regulation and tougher competition than ever before, agents must work harder to retain landlords by keeping them happy and demonstrating value for money.

“Agents need to focus on showing landlords everything that is included in their service and why they are more effective than local competitors,” says Seddington.

“If your service is slick and efficient this is only going to impress landlords, increase your chances of long-term retention and provide your staff with more time to focus on growing your business further.”

“Working out how you can reduce the impact of pain points landlords face on a regular basis, such as void periods, will only help in showing your clients why they need the services of a professional letting agency now more than ever,” he adds.

“Despite a challenging market, there are still plenty of opportunities for letting agents to be successful. Utilising the best PropTech services and products can be hugely beneficial in achieving long-term stability.”

How Can Estate Agents Expand their Business Post Tenant Fees Ban?

Published On: June 14, 2019 at 9:02 am


Categories: Lettings News,Tenant Fees Ban


Since the Tenant Fees Ban, it’s even more important for estate agents to diversify the services offered to clients – both landlords and tenants alike. According to Sava, positioning themselves as ‘residential property experts’ is key to bringing in streams of income other than charging fees to tenants.

Build additional services into their offerings

Becoming the go-to provider of a range of services, such as buying, selling, adapting, improving, managing or surveying/valuing a property could mean that agents are able to offer a 360 service to their clients in the property sector.

Austin Baggett, Managing Director of Sava, says: “Forget ‘Local Property Experts’, it’s time for agents to become ‘Residential Property Experts’ and provide a wide range of professional services to their clients.

“Most sellers are buyers too and may be looking for a survey or valuation. You can also target anyone in a chain with your additional products, knowledge and advice. Agents can thrive by building long-term relationships with their clients and being considered the local community’s property expert of choice.

“By providing valuable advice on anything to do with property, from traditional buying and selling to key structural or building information, agents can create more opportunities for themselves, making the market seem less crowded.”

Improve their expertise and property knowledge

Baggett says, “Having a certificate on the wall or letters after your name can be beneficial, but the real value from taking qualifications comes in knowing what you’re talking about and becoming a real industry expert.”

“Property sales and the moving process can be complex and you’re often dealing with people’s most valuable asset; therefore, consumers need reassurance and advice from someone they can trust.”

By offering services to customers and becoming a ‘one-stop shop’ to customers means you can open up your income streams and generate areas in revenue that you couldn’t before. Investment in training your team and hiring experts to undertake work in new fields can be highly beneficial.

Tim Crowe, owner of Crowes Estate Agents, says: “Being able to offer surveys has created an income stream for our business and when it comes to valuations, having RICS accreditation distinguishes us and can help win instructions.”

Stand out from the crowd

Competition has become increasingly fierce, with traditional agents battling it out against online ones, plus the uncertainty of certain political issues – such as Brexit – meaning there is more agents competing for a smaller range of new business.

Baggett explains: “It’s certainly a challenging market out there due to a range of political, demographic and industry-specific factors, and with more estate agents than ever, there’s less business to go around.”

“It’s so important to differentiate your brand, giving consumers a solid range of reasons why they should work with you and not your competitors. On top of this, providing a comprehensive range of property services is the key to being successful in the current market.”

Tenants to Save £192m a Year Thanks to Lettings Fee Ban

Published On: June 6, 2019 at 9:29 am


Categories: Tenant Fees Ban,Tenant News

Tags: ,,

Private tenants in England look set to save a total of £192m a year thanks to the recently-introduced lettings fee ban, which came into force on 1st June 2019.

A new study, undertaken by property app Bunk, has assessed the cost saving for tenants as a result of the Tenant Fees Act.

Bunk analysed the number of rental transactions within the private rental sector in England, along with the average tenant fee paid prior to the ban, to ascertain just how much the nation’s renters will be saving now that fees are prohibited.

According to the latest Government statistics on churn in the private rental sector, some 860,000 rental transactions are recorded per year.

Data from the English Housing Survey 2017/18 shows that the average tenant was charged £223 in fees alone.

Based on these statistics, a total sum of £191.8m will be saved per year thanks to the ban.

The Government believes that the Tenant Fees Act will make renting properties in England fairer and more affordable for renters, by reducing the costs they have to pay at the outset of a tenancy, at the same time as improving transparency and competition in the private rental sector.

Our Editor, Rose Jinks, spoke to Sky News Sunrise on the day the ban was introduced, to give her thoughts – take a look here

Landlords and letting agents in Wales will be banned from charging fees to tenants from 1st September 2019.

Tom Woollard, the Co-Founder and CEO of Bunk, comments: “For far too long, letting agents have essentially been writing their own rules when it comes to the fees they charge tenants for all manner of things, and, as a result, it has left a very sour taste in the mouths of many in the rental sector.

“The ban on tenant fees is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, as we now have a clear piece of legislation that letting agents, landlords and tenants can all adhere to, with a good level of accountability when this isn’t the case.” 

He continues: “Until this point, the majority of letting agents have essentially been taking extra money above and beyond any justified fees for no additional work, and so the thought that they might try and recoup this lost revenue through rental hikes or any other means is quite laughable. 

“Only time will tell if this does happen, and there will no doubt be a knee-jerk reaction of some sort by the industry. Hopefully, it will act as a catalyst for the sector to stand up and show it can provide a good service for a reasonable fee, and that letting agents still hold some value in a world where technology and innovation will undoubtedly render them obsolete.”

Our Editor Discusses Tenant Fees Act on Sky News

Published On: June 5, 2019 at 9:52 am


Categories: Tenant Fees Ban

Tags: ,,

Did anybody catch our Editor and Spokesperson of Just Landlords, Rose Jinks, on Sky News at the weekend? She was on the Sunrise show speaking to Stephen Dixon and Gillian Joseph about the Tenant Fees Act.

On Saturday 1st June 2019, the long-awaited Tenant Fees Act came into force across England. It has banned landlords and letting agents from charging upfront fees to tenants, as well as capping security deposits at five weeks’ rent and holding deposits at one week’s rent. 

Rose was invited to speak to the Sunrise team about the effects of the Act on the private rental sector. 

The Government has introduced the ban to save tenants money, as well as make the private rental sector a fairer, more transparent place to live. It could potentially save tenants hundreds of pounds, as they will no longer have to pay for tasks such as looking around a property, setting up a tenancy or check-out.

Landlords and letting agents caught charging the fees after 1st June will be fined up to £5,000 for a first offence, facing £30,000 fines or prosecution for another offence within five years.

Rose agreed that tenant fees could be unfair: “The average fee across the country is £400, but it can vary massively across the regions, so tenants can face extremely high costs when it comes to moving into a new property or moving within the private rental sector.”

Our Editor Discusses Tenant Fees Act on Sky News

So, why haven’t landlords controlled fees before this point?

Rose explained: “Often, it’s a letting agent that’s managing the property, so the letting agent has their own set of fees, they charge those to their tenants, they also charge their landlord customers, so it may be that the landlord who owns the property isn’t even aware of how much their tenant’s being charged, but, again, they do charge themselves, so now the Government’s stepping in and saying ‘we want to save tenants money, let’s put a ban on this’.”

With that in mind, it seems that the ban will naturally save tenants money. However, Rose is worried that the Act may not result in this.

“We’ve seen a lot of concern in the industry that it may not positively affect the tenants in the long-term, because the landlords may put the rent prices up instead, or they may leave the sector, which would reduce housing stock for tenants,” she claimed. “So I believe it’s a positive move by the Government to try and save the tenants money, but what we’re hearing is concern that that may not be effective in the long-term.”

However, Dixon argued that perhaps small increases in the monthly rent would be more manageable for renters.

Rose agreed: “Tenants can often face difficulties with moving house, and the private rental sector is designed to be flexible; you can move freely within it, but sometimes they’re facing barriers with extremely high costs that mean they can’t move house, because they have to pay all of these fees for these admin tasks, so hopefully now, yes, they will be able to move more fluidly.”

So, could this be beneficial to landlords as well?

“We always say to landlords that, if you get a good tenant in your property who looks after it, treats it like a home, pays their rent on time, that’s beneficial to you, you should be supporting your tenants to actually be comfortable in their own homes,” she added.

Tenant Fees Act 2019 Introduced Tomorrow (1st June) – A ‘Bright’ Future Remains for Letting Agencies

Published On: May 31, 2019 at 9:57 am


Categories: Lettings News,Tenant Fees Ban


Tomorrow (1st June) the Tenant Fees Act 2019 will come into force, bringing big changes for the private rental sector (PRS). There has been speculation that many landlords will combat the ban on fees by increasing rents, or simply leaving the market entirely.

In response, it has been suggested that the Government should also introduce rent controls. 

Rose Jinks, spokesperson for our sister company Just Landlords, was a guest on various radio stations across the country yesterday, discussing the ban and the changes that it will bring about. Together with Just Landlords, we have been keeping our readers up-to-date on the Act’s progress.

With changes imminent, Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer of PayProp, has shared his expectations for the PRS: “After a long period of waiting, the Tenant Fees Act is finally being introduced. This should help to provide greater certainty in the lettings market, alongside a sense of finality for letting agents, landlords and tenants.”

“The fees ban will affect the majority of professional letting agents, who up until now were able to charge tenants with honest and affordable fees for the services they provide.”

“While the legislation will undoubtedly help protect renters from a minority of agents that charge exorbitant fees, it will take some time to determine the true consequences of the tenant fees ban and whether it leads to rent rises across the board.”

“In order to replace lost revenue from tenant fees, agents will need to generate new income streams, make their processes more efficient and potentially increase landlord management costs where necessary.”

“Research by Kent Reliance shows that over a third of landlords are looking to cut their annual costs, with 30% saying they want to reduce their spend on letting agent fees. There is no doubt that the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act will require agents to work harder to retain existing business and secure new clients.”

“With all agents in the same position, one could argue there is now a level playing field. That said, market conditions for all agents across England will be challenging.”

“The best letting agencies will already have prepared and implemented various strategies to help combat the revenue lost because of the Tenant Fees Act.

“These will include adopting the best PropTech services and products and streamlining their businesses. This will allow agents to dedicate more time to their clients and provide outstanding customer service – a cornerstone of the lettings industry which could help an agency to differentiate from their competitors.”

“The future for letting agencies remains bright as the private rental sector continues to grow and the need for professional experts rises in an increasingly complex and regulated lettings market.”

“From here on in it will be the letting agencies with a clear business strategy in place, which invest in technology and take a customer service-led approach, that can reduce the impact of the tenant fees ban.”

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark has also commented on the upcoming Tenant Fees Act: “The Tenant Fees Act comes into force tomorrow, and agents should already have implemented the correct changes within their business in order to be compliant with the law.

“Members should refer to our Tenant Fees Toolkit for relevant advice, information, and legal documents that have been produced with the ban in mind. Although the Tenant Fees Act has been front of mind for a while, it’s important members stay up to date with other laws and local licences that are being introduced, as a breach of the ban can result in a large fine, so it’s vital agents get this right.”