Well-known letting agent Kristjan Byfield has announced the details of his new product which aims to reduce the workload of the end of tenancy process.
The product, known as The Depositary, is being launched in partnership with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) at the EA Masters Event on October 10.
The Depositary is the brainchild of Byfield and his business partner An Deckers, the co-founders of base property specialists, an East London letting agency.
It is being launched after three years of designing, building, testing and perfecting.
The Depositary automates and streamlines the end of tenancy process from the moment notice has been served/received to the point of refund (and dispute if applicable).
Pre-launch testing on Byfield and Deckers’ own agency has seen base property specialists reduce its end of tenancy administration from an average of three hours to less than 30 minutes.
The Depositary calculates a 2.5 hour saving per tenancy, equivalent to a reduction of 80%, which could save the average UK letting agency branch approximately 600 hours each year.
Its founders say by reducing low-value, repetitive tasks, agents can find their role more enjoyable and job satisfaction could increase.
Feedback from tenants has so far been positive, with many suggesting The Depositary helps them to understand where they are in the end of tenancy process and how long is left to go.
Renters also find the way deductions are presented, evidenced and negotiated within the platform more professional. Testing results indicate 92% of deduction proposals were accepted by tenants using the platform.
Other findings from testing include 90% of renters saying they found the platform made the process much easier than usual, while 83% found the deduction process easy and fair.
On top of this, 80% of tenants who tested the platform found the process much faster and said that it is something agents should adopt. Some 80% of tenants said they would opt for an agency which uses this platform over one that doesn't.
The subscription platform will be available for TDS insured scheme member letting agents operating in England and Wales. In the near future, it will be available to agents using TDS' custodial scheme as well as those using Zero Deposit.
Byfield says that it will not be available to private landlords and there are plans for The Depositary to become a whole of market product which works with all deposit protection schemes and no-deposit alternatives.
"The conclusion of a tenancy is probably the most stressful and demanding part of a let for an agency and yet, it is probably the most thankless," Byfield comments.
"Agents have a ton of compliance to adhere to, [they] have to tread the fine line of protecting clients whilst being fair to tenants spend the vast majority of [their] time chasing people and the rest of the time answering questions like: 'When will I get my money back?'."
The cost of the platform is anticipated to be a monthly subscription fee of around £50 per branch - there will be no set-up fee and no restriction on the number of users.
"Being agents, especially in the current climate, we knew the platform had to deliver exceptional value," says Byfield.
He adds that the platform has been completely self-funded by himself and Deckers and that there are no plans to raise additional funding.
"[There will be] no bonkers press releases any time soon about some crazy multi-million-pound valuation," he says.
"[We] are just really excited to start working with agents from across the country and transform their tenancy operations for the benefit of everyone."