“The best tenant is one who moves in as soon as a property is complete, stays for ten years, increases their rent every year and never has any problems,” says Samuel Fitz-Hugh of Settio Property Experience. “That’s the optimum tenant.”
It might sound like a pipe dream but, for the Manchester-based “property experience” company, it’s the goal of every tenancy. Settio, founded last year by Fitz-Hugh and his Singapore-based partner Christopher Parsonage, caters mainly to overseas property investors who want to be completely hands-off throughout the process - from purchasing a property off-plan, instructing solicitors and mortgage advisors, right through to furnishing and finding the right tenants. “The whole concept is to be all-encompassing - to look after them from start to finish,” says Fitz-Hugh. “We charge them an all-inclusive fee, so we don’t have charges for admin or inventories or anything like that.”
Fitz-Hugh says what isn’t immediately obvious about Settio’s all-inclusive fee structure is that they’re incentivised to find tenants who will stay in the properties on a long-term basis. “Normally when a tenant moves there is a void period - with our model, we have to pay the costs incurred during that period, it doesn’t affect the landlord,” says Fitz-Hugh. “That means we’re incentivised to make sure our tenants are staying as long as possible, they look after the property and they’re good guys.”
Finding and keeping the right tenants isn’t an “exact science”, says Fitz-Hugh, but - as with their landlords - Settio is working to improve the tenant experience from start to finish. This includes a slick application process, prosecco or beer upon move-in and a rewards scheme where tenants earn more points the longer they stay in a property, as well as being entered in monthly prize draws.
“We want to create a reason for people to use us that isn’t just about the property - at the moment, the only reason to use an agency is because they’ve got the property you want and, unless they’re absolutely awful, you’re still going to use them because you like the flat,” says Fitz-Hugh. “We want people who are moving to think ‘I’d really like to rent with Settio, I wonder if they have anything?’ Or when our tenants are planning to leave, we want them to continue to rent with us - we don’t want them to find a property with another agent before they even tell us they’re leaving - we want them to come to us first.”
Fitz-Hugh thinks this way of thinking could be “gold dust” for agents who are looking to reduce their costs, save time and increase revenue. “Every time a tenancy ends, it costs time and money and more importantly prompts the client to consider a change of agent” he says. “So offer your landlords value for money and push to keep your tenants forever.”