Recent void statistics have had me wondering how agents can juggle client and consumer demands in the face of the impending fees ban.
Filling the void
UKALA’s latest research found that 35% of landlords experienced a void period in the last three months; up from 33% the previous quarter.
In the North of England, this was even higher, at 53%. Perhaps unsurprisingly, landlords in the South East had the lowest percentage of voids at 28%.
Most voids were due to natural tenant changeover, but in a quarter of cases landlords said the void was a consequence of challenges with finding new tenants.
Tightening the belts
Agents are, of course, best placed to ensure landlords can sidestep a potential void. But with tougher taxation now in place it’s more important than ever for landlords to minimise a costly void and maintain a steady income.
Some landlords will also be looking at ways to minimise their operating costs so they can maintain a healthy return on investment, and while rents are increasing in most regions at the moment, eventually the market will naturally reach a tipping point where tenants will no longer accept higher rents, as seems to be the case in London.
The challenge for agents
Agents, meanwhile, will need to rethink their operating models, particularly as the tenant fees ban approaches. While we still don’t know exactly when this will be implemented, we know that it’s coming and we need to be prepared.
Naturally some agents, under pressure from the imminent fees ban, are growing concerned at what impact this will have on the level of quality and service they will be able to provide consumers. If you’re in this boat then you need to remember that as an agent, you are being paid to act on behalf of the landlord to fulfil their duty of care to their tenants.
You will need to prove your worth to your clients, landlords, by making sure their expectations are met, and provide a cost-effective, reliable service. But this should not be at the expense of the consumer, the tenant; if they don’t like the way you operate, or perceive a poor service, then they will take their business elsewhere and be more than willing to share their experiences. If you can’t fill properties then you may well lose the landlord too.
So here is my challenge to you: understand your role in the PRS and fulfil it in a way that keeps your clients and your consumers happy.
Remember that your trade association is always here to help you do this. If you don’t belong to one, then there’s your first step to achieving that challenge.
*Richard Price is Executive Director of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA)