Three of the country’s most senior agents have told a PropTech supplier how they use technology to aid their compliance work in the increasingly regulated rental sector.
The trio are Mike Hookway, property management director at London-focussed agency Portico; Emily McNally, associate safety compliance consultant at Chestertons; and Lisa Simon, head of residential at Carter Jonas.
They have explained to Gas Tag - a PropTech supplier of a gas safety compliance tool - how their use of technology saves time, improves accuracy and identifies compliance challenges.
This is most vividly seen in three areas, they say.
Firstly, automated milestones and notifications will save time for agents tackling compliance.
Portico’s Mike Hookway says setting up reminders allows time to open discussions with clients and arrange visits to satisfy legal requirements. "The ability to rely on system generated alerts is intrinsically linked to the time saving aspect of our service proposition for clients" he says.
Meanwhile Chestertons’ Emily McNally adds: "We can run reports as necessary to ensure we are meeting deadlines, meaning that properties remain compliant.”
Secondly, the use of apps and in-house tech can prove particularly effective: Gas Tag says its research found agencies were looking to integrate specialist compliance technology with their existing management software.
"Collaboration and integration between agencies and technology products is absolutely crucial in keeping costs down and becoming more efficient" says John Roche, Gas Tag’s chief operating officer.
McNally says Chestertons’ own IT operations system logs information allowing it to be seen company-wide, while Hookway says Portico's bespoke IT system has reduced the need for manual work, allowing the agency to reduce the time required to stay compliant.
The third use of technology to aid compliance is seen in centralised documentation and online record keeping.
Lisa Simon of Carter Jonas says: "We now issue certificates digitally. This means that we can prove service and also maintain a centralised digital system to store all documentation for both parties.”
Gas Tag suggests that one of the biggest challenges for agents is the pressure to serve the correct legal documentation before, during and after a tenancy. "Digital evidence and audit trails can help agents to protect consumers while ensuring they're operating on the right side of the law" says Roche.
"Quick turnaround times and the ever-growing requirement for safety certificates to be in place prior to a tenancy starting or serving notice can put time pressure on matters" says McNally.