Agents face crucial role in coming months
28 September 2020 7830 Views
The role of lettings agents has never been more crucial to landlords and tenants than it is now and will be for the foreseeable future. The best agents have always played a key role in advising and supporting landlords and tenants but clearly this role has never been more important than in the current times.
Agents not only need to advise landlords and tenants on the usual issues such as contracts, terms, rental agreements, and rental collection but also have to be fully up to speed on the constantly changing government policy related to the private rented sector (PRS) during the coronavirus pandemic.
With the impact of the virus now forecast to extend into the Spring of 2021 there has never been a time when agents must be as fully up to date and as informed as possible. With advice markedly different across different regions and countries of the UK agencies covering a wide geographic area need to have detailed knowledge about current advice in each area.
Agents not only need to be aware of the UK wide legislation but also the various shifting local rules and regulations that are introduced on an almost week by week basis. From virtual viewing, to administrative checks, to the latest on evictions, the information overload on landlords, tenants, and agents has never been greater. Yet it has never been more important to get everything exactly right and communicate this information succinctly and clearly.
This is a challenge for agents, but the best will remain on top of their brief and effective actions and relations developed during this period will build bonds between landlords and tenants lasting long into the future when coronavirus is a distant memory.
Landlords need to know that they are working with an agent who is knowledgeable, informed, and engaged with all aspects of the current changing circumstances. Advice now is worth every penny paid and landlords will be looking for individuals and firms with a strong track record to support, advise, and guide them through this difficult time.
Agents need to keep themselves abreast of the daily changing circumstances and ensure that their landlords and tenants are fully informed. This means that up to date, detailed information is communicated regularly with all parties concerned to ensure that everyone is aware of their rights, of the current national and local position, and what is likely to occur in the coming months.
To do this effectively requires online access through a platform that can be updated regularly and is easily accessible by landlords and tenants. With the situation changing so rapidly excellent online information is crucial. Most people now run their lives from their phone and agencies which have a clear, easy to understand online service which is accessible 24/7 are more able to readily meet their clients needs. A platform which keeps landlords and tenants regularly updated with detailed information on the current legislation and rules for viewing, for tenancy agreements, payments, arrears, and legal processes if disputes occur is essential.
In recent weeks evictions have become a major issue for some landlords who find themselves unsupported by government and forced into a corner by emergency legislation restricting their actions. Agents must help their clients through this difficult process which is complicated by a number of caveats restricting action in areas which are experiencing localised lockdowns.
This is an extremely sensitive and difficult time because many landlords may want to initiate action against a tenant but find that this is limited by temporary, local regulations. The key to this is to ensure that the agent is communicating regularly with the tenant to resolve the payment situation as effectively as possible whilst also keeping in mind the possibility that eviction might be necessary.
This, coupled with a landlord who may be facing financial distress, places the agent in a mediating role unlike any we may have seen in the past. Trying to bring together these disparate groups at a time when regulations and legislation is changing on a weekly basis whilst trying to placate distressed landlords and reason with tenants worried about their finances, places inordinate strains on agents.
But this is the time when the best people come to the fore. They understand the needs of their clients, of the tenants, and the requirement to build relationships which will persist long after this pandemic is over. It is undoubtedly a challenging time but one which we will come through stronger than before and with a greater flexibility and understanding to help us be resilient in the times to come. This is a time for agents to come to the fore and lead their clients through these difficult times.
David Alexander is joint CEO...
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