One of Britain’s best known lettings agents has hit back at a journalist’s claims that the industry is in danger of being shunned by tech-savvy younger renters who won’t be prepared to put up with poor service.
Katherine Denham, a journalist on London business newspaper City AM, earlier this week claimed that traditional lettings agents are being outwitted by the likes of Purplebricks and “tech-driven millenials who could well be the death of this industry.”
In a lengthy scathing attack, Denham also accused many agents of being "reliably awful" and the industry as a whole of being “blinkered to the dangers, underestimating the threat posed by thriving online businesses, and millions of tenants who are fed up with paying over the odds to get little in return.”
For good measure she claimed: “There’s a generation of renters who may not be able to afford to buy a house, but who are not prepared to put up with unprofessional letting agents forever.”
But now Kristjan Byfield, the popular and high-profile co-founder of base property specialists in east London, has written an open letter via Letting Agent Today, hitting back on behalf of the industry.
We’re very happy to carry the open letter in full below.
Whilst I agreed with some elements of your recent City AM article bemoaning the often poor service delivered by some Letting Agents, it joins the litany of articles that have gone before (and the many, no doubt, yet to be written) that attack our industry as a whole.
In highlighting the least trusted professions, I see you happened to miss journalists off of the findings mentioned (and let’s not forget parking wardens too eh?).
I think it is this attacking mantra that befalls the reputation of your industry at times. Try and find genuinely, insightful, candid, positive articles about our industry (that aren’t just a piece of PR) and you will find that your searches yield very few results indeed!
There are a litany of agents across the UK, from single office independents like us to much larger organisations, trying to evolve and improve delivering an ever-better service and renting experience.
They bring tech and digitisation, transparency, efficiency, fairness and genuine quality customer service to the fore - but you never hear it written about in the general media.
So, as a follow up article to this piece, why not take time to genuinely research our industry and the pioneers, both big and small, that are driving it forwards? Rather than bemoaning the worst element, instead why not champion the heroes emerging across the UK?
There are agents that charge fair tenant fees and some that even charge none at all.
There are agents that are available day and night by phone and via tech.
There are stories from across the UK of agents that regularly go above and beyond to deliver incredible customer service and deliver an amazing rental experience from enquiry to check out.
There are agents daring to innovate, both in terms of service offerings and through digital innovation to deliver to tenants and landlords alike, a service for all to enjoy and be proud of.
So, like the many agents across the UK determined to deliver a quality experience and transform the attitudes held by many of our industry, why not buck the trend of your industry to date and rise as a champion of consumers by educating them about the many amazing things taking place that could mean a life spent renting is a great experience and not the horror story it is almost always portrayed as?
I will be sharing this piece as an open letter for all to see but wanted to write to you directly first.
As you can see I am passionate about my industry and the amazing things happening within it and welcome a conversation, online or face to face, about the many exciting innovations and companies leading the way to a better renting experience.