“York has two thriving universities and it’s one of the most-visited cities in Britain, as well as being very liveable, so York can offer all of these - student housing, holiday lets and long-term lets. It’s good to be able to say to prospective landlords that we offer everything and we have the experience to provide advice on all of these areas,” says Anya Mathewson, the owner and director of Letters Property Management in York. “We’ve found that landlords really want knowledge of both the local market and York itself, and there are very few agencies who can say they’re truly local.”
Letters Property Management currently manages 300 residential properties, 40 holiday-let properties and 25 blocks of flats in York. Mathewson says offering both long and short-term lets, in particular, has significantly enhanced the agency’s proposition to landlords. “They're very different, but they do knit quite nicely together in terms of being able to offer both to landlords and be a real one-stop shop. We have some landlords who might have one of each - a holiday let and a residential let.”
Short and long-term differ in their day-to-day management, which is why Letters Property Management has a specialised department focusing on each area of the business. “Short-term lets are a lot more hands on, because there’s a higher turnover. We need to coordinate with housekeepers, get keys out to people - there’s a lot of detail.”
Short-term guests, whether they’re staying for a few days or a few weeks, also have different expectations of service to those tenants who are living in a property long-term. “Once a tenant moves into a property, legally we have to leave them be - they have the right to quiet enjoyment of their property,” she says. “Whereas a guest in a holiday let, it might be a bit more hand-holding if they phone up and say they can't get the oven to work or things like that.”
Efficient communication across all areas of the business, with both short and long-term tenants and landlords, is also important. “People aren’t waiting for the post to drop on their doormat a week later anymore. They want timely and efficient communication, in all spheres of life - whether it’s your tickets coming through for a concert or knowing when something is going to be fixed,” she says.
“We’ve built our reputation on providing a professional, friendly service that both landlords and tenants can trust. As a team, we’ve talked about how we’d like to be treated and agreed the most disappointing experience is when somebody lets your down,” says Mathewson. “If an agent tells a tenant something will be fixed next week and that doesn’t happen, or a landlord is told they’ll be paid on the fifth of every month and it doesn’t happen, that trust begins to crumble. We do our utmost to prevent that.”
Prompt communication is even more important in these instances. “If the landlord or tenant has to chase us up, we’re not doing a good job. For example, if the rent isn’t paid, whether it’s due to the tenant or a problem with the computer system, we would let our landlord know,“ says Mathewson.
“Most of our new business comes through word of mouth and that’s because every system and procedure is built on providing the best service we can, using the latest technology and keeping an eye on the market so we match services to the local demand at all times.”