Webinar notes

Fee ban inevitable and changes to bill unlikely, says ARLA CEO

ARLA CEO David Cox discussed the impact of the Tenant Fees Ban in our first webinar. 

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“There’s no doubt that the introduction of the Tenant Fee Ban will represent a seismic shift in the way our industry operates,” said ARLA CEO David Cox in our first webinar, which focused on how letting agents can prepare for the impact of the new legislation. 

“There’s no silver bullet, because every agency runs their business differently, but I think everyone needs be looking first at how they can reduce their costs and how they can maximise their income,” said Cox.

In the in-depth discussion of the Tenant Fee Ban, in which Cox answered questions submitted by letting agents from throughout the country, he also noted any substantial changes to the draft bill before it comes into effect were unlikely. “There’s no dissent at all -  I cannot overturn the will of 650 MPs  with no support in parliament.”

 He believes the industry will continue to face significant challenges: “Landlords are starting to get a bit twitchy and some are leaving the market - and while the government continues to attack the Private Rental Sector, it’s only going to get worse. We’ve been advocating strongly that they need to take a pause and look at what has worked and hasn’t worked and then fix it.”

Cox’s talk was followed by a Q&A with an industry panel, who discussed how technology could help letting agents overcome these challenges.

David Thomas,  founder and director of Liberty Gate, an estate and lettings agency in Nottingham, said: You’ve got to focus on cutting costs and increasing revenues and that’s really where the proptech can come in and help.Automating processes is ultimately saving us time and money, especially on the administration side.”

Graham Lock, who started House Network in 2005 and was managing director at The Property Franchise Group before becoming an independent consultant said the tenant fee ban is “a really good opportunity for agents to reassess their business”.

“Now is the time to review all your processes and what you’re doing with technology - if you do nothing you risk not innovating as an agency.  Agents are looking at increasing their fees, but if you’re not improving your business and your service at the same time, you’ll miss out,” said Lock.

Debbie Franklin, an independent consultant who spent 27 years with Andrews Property Group, agreed that taking a fresh look at your existing processes was key to the successful implementation of new technology.

“You need to look at your processes almost as though you’re starting from scratch. It’s really key you do that properly. Take a step back and think how can i change that? Don’t think you can just keep doing the same thing you’ve always done - you have to keep evolving and innovating.”

A version of this article first appeared on Property Industry Eye.

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