10:00 AM, 27th January 2012, About 12 years ago 3
So far in these articles we have looked at actions, activities and principles a 21st Century Letting Agency can adopt to deliver a truly 21st Century Service to their Landlord, but how will the landlord ever know if they are actually doing what they say they do? I, among the majority of landlords, have believed the words coming out of a Letting Agents lips only to regret it. From experience I am tempted to apply the old adage applied to politicians ‘If their lips are moving they are lying’ but that is a sad indictment of the industry and not actually true of the majority of agents. The trouble is that landlords are not provided with the means to judge whether the agency is living up to its claims or not. Yet this is the digital age with the internet superhighway and most landlords can access the internet, all sorts of companies provide their clients access to their own secure data. Even the NHS is considering this so why not landlords.
A 21st Century Letting Agency can and should be able to provide their landlords with 24hr, 365 day access to the detailed performance of their portfolio right down to the individual properties and their tenants from anywhere in the world with internet access. What peace of mind would this give a landlord if he could see everything happening to individual properties, exit /induction reports, repairs progress and costs, rental income, arrears if any, tenancy agreements, vacancies, viewings, tenant details, in fact every little detail available at the touch of a button. Some landlords may well be content to trust the agency and just receive the summary report email each week and the money into the account but they should have the security of knowing that if they sense a problem they don’t just have to believe what the Agent says.
At the end of the landlord’s financial year, the agency should ensure there is a download for the accountant to prepare the annual accounts direct resulting in significantly lower accountancy costs. It is even possible for the Agency to set up the automatic payment of the mortgages on the properties as they fall due each month direct from their account. For the landlord, this saves on banking charges and worrying whether the cash is in the account to meet the payment. With the transparency of the reporting system the landlord can monitor the situation at all times. Such a system is in existence and is the envy of virtually all the landlords who have seen it.
These are not pipe dreams or wishes for the future. They are all possible now and are being provided to a greater or lesser degree by one or more letting agencies. If one can do it why shouldn’t the rest. All Letting Agencies should be aspiring to this level of management of a Landlord’s assets and landlords should be requiring them to do so. If they cannot or they refuse then landlords should look to move their business to one that does. If you don’t ask you don’t get and it is only by asking, no, insisting, on agencies raising their service levels to these standards will we ever get the 21st Century Letting Agents that sector deserves. Get this level of service and the government doesn’t need to legislate to improve Letting Agents standards and it and the industry representative bodies can concentrate on ways of protecting landlords from the rogue tenant who is, after all, far more common, than the rogue landlord or letting agent.
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