Nearly half of all agents surveyed recently knew a landlord who had changed agency because of how badly repairs had been dealt with. When the mercury plummets, a failure to act quickly when a maintenance request comes in could put tenant welfare at stake. Responsible agents should consider taking extra precautions at the beginning of the season to make sure they have things under control by the end.
Don't let the cold in
At this time of year, lettings agents tend to see a number of seasonal concerns, with calls about broken boilers, leaks and burst pipes all on the increase.* But while dodgy hot water might seem like a minor concern to some, any issue that affects the heat source being supplied to a house in a cold snap could have serious consequences for tenants, particularly elderly ones or those with young children.
Letting Agent Today reported that on average, it takes 94 minutes of staff time to manage a repair to completion. So it might be worth diverting resources to ensure each problem receives an immediate response. No matter how small the complaint may seem; it’s worth dealing with it quickly before things get out of hand.
Contractors are key
As well as allotting more time and personnel to repairs, well-prepared agencies should also make efforts to strengthen their relationships with contractors at this time of year. Should extreme weather strike, it’s reassuring to know that there is a contractor who can repair any maintenance request and that you have a strong enough relationship that they’ll prioritise your repairs over others. Don’t wait until Christmas to make the call.
It’s also important that you can account for everyone’s whereabouts over the holiday period. Whether it be staff or contractors taking time out, you need to be on top of everyone’s movements so that you know that all your landlords are covered and that an emergency contact is in place.
Don’t wait until the new year to enhance your existing software. Systems like Fixflo offer tenants and landlords a 24/7 service, which allows both parties to report and log a problem around the clock. It also dates and time-stamps all client contact, providing an audit trail in case of any issue.
And in many cases, it can actually solve the problem at the source: 16% of problems reported to Fixflo can actually be solved in-system.* For example, one of the most common issues reported in the Winter are about boilers that fail to start. With problems such as these, the solution is usually as simple as making sure the boiler is turned on.
Fixflo would guide tenants through the repair process ensuring the boiler is set to the correct settings before a contractor is called out. This ensures that only tenants with real emergencies are seen to and that you are allocating resources in the most efficient way. When repairs management are a key factor in determining the success of a lettings agency, it's important not to let them slip.
That's what we call Christmas coming early!