A PropTech entrepreneur says all agents would benefit from the introduction of more automation, but that those with student tenants may find particular advantages.
Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp UK, ays the ability of technology to manage arrears, provide transparency and streamline business processes would help dispel a certain scepticism amongst agents towards student tenants.
He says some agents or landlords may be wary of letting to students due to the perception that they are more likely to fall into arrears because of their financial circumstances.
To add to the wariness, Cobbled cites research by Housing Hand showing a huge jump in the number of student tenants applying for a guarantor, due to rising rents.
However, he says agencies could keep on top of any student rent arrears by taking a pro-active and systems-focused approach to payments.
"Seeing the live status of a portfolio via an automated system can easily show you which tenants are in arrears in real time. These tenants can automatically be reminded via SMS to pay their rent” he believes.
“Research shows around 90 per cent of text messages are read within three minutes of receipt, and 64 per cent of tenants in arrears respond within 48 hours of being reminded. Automating arrears management processes could save agents and their clients thousands of pounds each year" Cobbold adds.
"For firms working in the student rental sector – where large numbers of payments need to be processed, often from separate tenants living in the same properties – this could completely revolutionise an agency's business."
"The right payment automation platform can match rent payments to the right tenants and pay all your landlords on the day rent is received – no matter how big or small your portfolio" he insists.
Cobbold also suggests that increased automation also helps future-proof lettings agents to higher levels of transparency and regulation being introduced into the rental sector.
"With incoming laws requiring mandatory Client Money Protection scheme membership and banning up front fees, it's vital that agents can easily prove their transparency by producing a record of all incoming and outgoing payments at the touch of a button.
"Digitising and automating the payments process is the only way to do this effectively while making your business more efficient and profitable at the same time."