Property lettings haven’t always had the best relationship with technology. In fact, the entire property landscape here in the UK has often shied away from digital advancements. But we’re now reaching the point where using tech is unavoidable if the goal is to provide a better all-round experience for everyone involved.
The new normal brought on by Covid-19 has only accelerated the need for technology, but its importance was there for everyone to see long before the global pandemic. Initially, many property professionals saw tech as a barrier to what is essentially a people business.
However, with landlord demand for more transparency over their assets increasing, technology is once again in the spotlight. Blowback from those in the industry is starting to give way, as the general consensus revolves around technology empowering performance on all levels.
Why is transparency important for landlords and tenants?
Asking why someone needs transparency might seem like an odd question. After all, who wouldn’t desire complete insight into something they are financially invested in? However, one of the lettings market’s biggest roadblocks has been the lack of transparency offered to landlords and tenants.
Or, more specifically, it’s the access to insight that has proved to be a problem. The majority of property management companies bet all their chips on the idea of a “people business”, meaning interactions require phone calls, texts and emails and little else.
In theory, emphasising human interaction sounds like a winning strategy – and it is to an extent. But when you rely solely on human input, processes become laboured, and vital details are missed.
And that is what often happens with landlords and tenants.
More oversight for landlords
Whether you’re a landlord with a portfolio or own a single property, you’ll want to know how your investment performs. It’s all well and good sitting back and enjoying passive income, but bricks and mortar often need attention in some capacity.
Landlords mostly rely on a report from the property manager, which happens when there’s a problem – such as a repair that needs fixing – or if the monthly statement is due. Other than these two factors, it’s unlikely that landlords have access to how their property is performing on a daily basis.
Yet, having a fluid process for accessing information and data whenever it’s needed provides more transparency for landlords. It gives them easy access and a 24/7 overview of their assets’ performance, from seeing how much it costs in repairs to the net figure of rental income.
They don’t need to request this information, either. Instead, technology allows them to see details about their portfolio at any time. Providing more transparency to landlords also frees up property managers to focus on more pressing tasks, such as arranging repairs and managing the general day-to-day of the asset.
Tenants and transparency
The need for a transparent service extends to tenants. The in-life tenancy experience is a fundamental part of renting. In fact, it’s arguably the most important. A tenant’s experience defines their entire relationship with the property, landlord and property manager.
That experience starts from the initial property enquiry, lasting all the way up to when they hand the keys back after moving out. The majority of renters are Millennials, with an increasing number also classed as “Generation Z”. They are tech-savvy and expect a simpler and more convenient way to live in a home.
Too often, property management has been one of the biggest bugbears. There are many factors involved with managing a property, but repairs is a particular sticking point. Tenants report issues – either via email or phone call – and then they wait.
The process is archaic, with four parties involved via a string of emails and phone calls. The property manager needs permission from the landlord; then they need to source a contractor before arranging a time for the repairs to take place with the tenant.
Days can pass before anything happens, and all the while, the tenant waits for an update with no oversight on the process. So much effort goes into requesting a repair when it should be as simple as a few clicks of a button.
Technology streamlines processes like repairs, often through a platform that provides features where tenants simply upload an image of the problem and agents get to work arranging the repair. All the while, tenants have a complete overview of the timeline for issues getting fixed around the home.
Better-performing property managers
Transparency doesn’t just help landlords and tenants; it enables property managers to perform at higher levels. Technology in the lettings market shouldn’t be about replacing humans – it should empower them.
They won’t need to spend as much time arranging monthly updates, and can even set budget caps with landlords that mean they don’t involve them in decisions for up to a specific price, say £500. All this can be achieved through a system, freeing up property managers in the process.
Property managers will still have the authority to provide updates too. After all, they are the managers of the property. What tech does, however, is provide information to everyone involved and offer a more transparent overview.
A clear view into the future
Property management is still a people business, with technology speeding up processes like repairs and offering better insight for everyone involved. Tech-led initiatives have played some form of role in the lettings market for years, but they’ve never sustained.
This time, however, the shift change looks like it will be a lasting one that results in tech-led processes that provide more transparency for landlords and tenants while making the lives of property professionals easier. A win-win-win, if you will.