Why it pays to show understanding and adaptability in lettings
This agency took an understanding and flexible approach to tenants struggling to pay rent during the pandemic - and has since been rewarded with a nil eviction rate and strong demand.
E Property Agent has been actively listening to its tenants’ needs during the pandemic, to understand their situations and find the best solutions to suit all parties involved, which has helped them avoid tenant evictions in most cases.
“We've had no one in a property not paying their rent due to Covid-19. The majority have managed to get up to date and a small percentage have agreed to payment plans that they're sticking to,” says Robert Neil, Head of E Property Agent. “I honestly think that's because of communicating and being fair with people.”
This sustained income was supported by the “floodgates” opening at the agency when the lockdown restrictions were eased. Surveys suggest that lockdown has resulted in changing priorities for tenants but Robert doesn’t see the heightened demand as directly connected to these evolving expectations.
“We've not had an influx of people giving notice to get a bigger property, we're not finding one type of property is more popular than the other. I think it's too early days,” says Robert. “I think the people that are moving are the people that need to move, rather than those who have just a general ‘want’.”
Robert says that demand is coming from those who were aiming to move before the lockdown - and both supply and demand of properties comes from those who took the opportunity to save money during lockdown. “We had some people that gave notice to move in with parents to save money - and we’ve now got a lot of those people moving into our properties,” says Robert. “Others have been in house shares, and they spent less money during lockdown than they expected. For our one and two bedroom apartments, a lot are moving in on their own or with partners.”
A new routine
As the industry settles into a new routine for managing lettings activities, Robert says that he’s optimistic for its future, as lettings is historically a good investment - but some agencies may feel the pressures of the economic climate if they can’t adapt.
“It will all change the marketplace to a degree but rentals historically always go up or plateau. Sales are very up and down, but rentals are a safer bet. I think this situation will just reinforce that fact,” says Robert.
“Unfortunately, there will be some companies that don't survive Covid-19 or the recession, but how long would they have survived without it? Was it prolonging something?” says Robert. “The industry needs to keep moving forwards, not backwards. Agencies should be more proactive, not reactive.”