By Chris Kidwell, The Living Room Estates
You may or may not have heard – but I suspect you have – that there’s a tenant fee ban coming into place this year.
This new piece of legislation has been brought in to protect tenants from paying vast amounts of money for signing up to a property. On paper, it’s a great idea. In practice, the majority of agencies probably didn’t overcharge in the first place – but that’s another argument for another day. If you need to read up on what the tenant fee ban is all about, Fixflo have a good fact sheet that breaks it down quite nicely here.
In financial terms, the industry is going to lose between 15-30% of income, which by anyone’s estimation is an incredible amount of money to lose. So to avoid unsustainable rental increases, large landlord commission increases, or job losses, agents are having to get savvy. Tech savvy.
At The Living Room Estates, we’ve identified that in order to survive this fee ban, we’ve got to find ways to save time. Time is money after all. So moving processes online means saving time on data entry and money on printing. Things like tenant application forms, online signing of tenancy agreements and guarantor forms, automating maintenance processes, etc. The more that we can get a computer to do for us, the more we can concentrate on ensuring that our customer service levels really stand out in a competitive industry.
Improving Our Services
If we are going to put our prices up at all, we want to make sure that we’re doing it with good reason. One thing that the tenant fee ban has done is made agencies think long and hard about how efficient we are. There are many age-old processes that can be improved in order to save time while still offering a better service. Additionally, improving rental packages for tenants by including utilities, contents insurance, cleaners, etc. are all ways for agencies and landlords to maximise their earnings. The tenant has the option to take a simple, one-for-all monthly rental payment. The landlord and agent could retain control of some historically difficult elements of renting – utilities or cleaning.
The tenant fee ban shouldn’t lead to money-for-nothing price hikes. And the agents that put their rents and management commission up without offering an improved service will ultimately be the ones that unfortunately fall flat on their face.
Ultimately, the aim of all of the above is to offer the best, cleanest, hassle-free service that we can.
Traditionally, the letting agent is a real jack of all trades, and it can be hard to find enough hours in the day to complete every task and still find time to make a service personal. While we naturally would say that we think we’ve been pretty good at it, in order to come through 2019 alive and kicking, we had to get even better and that’s exactly what we intend to do.