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PropTech firm says agencies must modernise as lettings sector expands

Letting agents need to modernise and digitise to prepare for a surge in the size of the private rental sector according to a PropTech firm.

PayProp says agents who use technology to streamline and automate processes can dedicate more time to clients and scale more effectively - essential if they are to cope with a surge in the number of tenants as predicted by agency Knight Frank.

It says the proportion of households renting privately will rise to 24 per cent by 2021 - tallying roughly with forecasts based on the 2015-16 English Housing Survey.

Neil Cobbold, PayProp's chief operating officer in the UK, says agents should embrace communication achieved through technology: he cites Fixflo (with which PayProp has a partnership) as one operator promoting the online reporting of tenants’ issues as an example of how effectively this can work.

"Most agents started out because of their passion for helping tenants and landlords and providing a good service, but this might end up being a difficult promise to keep as you scale" cautions Cobbold. 

“One reason consumers like to use independent agents is due to the level of service they offer. Corporate agencies can sometimes be more difficult to get hold of and clients like to be able to interact directly with their agent" he says, suggesting the independents may be the biggest potential winners out of embracing technology.

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