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'PropTech is the answer to lettings sector problems, not a cause'

A head of a company providing hi-tech products to letting agents says technology is the answer to current rental industry challenges, and is not a problem itself.

Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp - a long-established platform that processes rental payments - says he accepts the lettings industry is under attack with pro-tenant legislation, stock shortages and recent and future tax changes.

But he stoutly defends PropTech - the digitisation of property channels and processes – as an advantage and not a difficulty in overcoming such challenges, and urges agents and others in the rental sector to resist the temptation to ‘carry on regardless.’

He says PropTech can help in a number of ways.

“Regulation, for example. It’s no secret that mandatory client money protection is coming, and while deposit protection schemes provide good enough protection, best-in-class payment technology solutions offer additional client protections like ring-fenced client accounting, role-based account access, auditability, detailed reporting and much more in the way of financial best practice” he suggests.

He says additional threats to the sector - a ban on fees levied on tenants, landlords selling off because of reduced profitability, and changes to housing benefit - can be helped too.

“Automation, a feature of much of PropTech, is a cornerstone of scalability. Automate your processes to scale up the number of processes under your management, and you can grow your portfolio size too” says Cobbold.

“This puts scaling as a growth tactic within reach of smart tech-enabled players too – not just those with brute buying power, which means more agents can benefit from bulk fee concessions.”

As a bonus, he adds, PropTech allows small start-ups or large corporates alike to streamline processes and channels through tactics like integration, unlocking economies in instances where sheer scale alone cannot.

“So, if you’re thinking times are tougher than ever in the property game, it may just be that you haven’t considered the opportunities in this brave new world. Embrace PropTech today to become more efficient, grow your portfolio and add irresistible value through new digital services” he says.

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