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How Should Agents Respond to Today’s More Powerful Tenants?

Property Technology Blog

Tenants in the private rented market have historically had a rough ride including exposure to rogue landlords, being asked asked to pay high rents for less-than-ideal properties and being left largely to fend for themselves  by law makers.

That has all changed. A government keen to be seen as the tenant’s champion has ushered in a raft of changes designed to offer private renters greater protection from the worst that the sector can throw at them.

This includes most famously the tenant fees ban due to go live on June 1st but also the recently-approved Fitness for Human Habitation bill, wider mandatory licensing of HMOs, a national database of rogue landlords, mandatory client money protection, new electrical safety checks and a soon-to-be launched national housing court where tenants will able to solve disputes with landlords more easily.

Many agents and landlords may be feeling that the tables have been turned on them as they ponder how to replace the income that they will lose when the tenant fees ban goes live on June 1st this year, as well as the raft of new rules they’ll need to stick to.

One unintended consequence of all this is that letting agents must now concentrate on a landlord’s tenants as much as they do the landlord. After all, a happy tenant is a more reliable and loyal one, and that’s what landlords want.

But how? Making their lives easier is one answer. Fixflo’s property repairs and maintenance software helps do that by making reporting faults easier and quicker, but there are other ways to keep tenants happy too.

Improve their credit score

A good credit score is essential to successfully navigate our consumer society for anyone keen to access affordable credit cards, be approved for loans or mobile phone contracts or get a mortgage. Agents can help tenants achieve this by introducing them a rent reporting platform like CreditLadder. It’s free for tenants to use and enables them to have their rent payments added to their credit history which in turn can help improve their score.

Be pet friendly

Many landlords are resistant to tenants with pets. But the tide is turning. The Labour party recently led a well-publicised campaign to persuade landlords to be more flexible over pets, supported by several major charities, plus pets are one of the ten most frequently-searched terms by prospective tenants when house hunting. And yet nearly two-thirds of landlords won’t rent to pet-owning tenants. But this is an opportunity for landlords; research shows that tenants are prepared to pay extra to live with their pets and one build-to-rent operator in
London currently charges £600 a year to do so.

Give them discounts

There are several services and products that tenants want and need including contents insurance, local restaurant and food delivery discounts and specialist utility suppliers, of which are opportunities for letting agents to simultaneously offers discounts to tenants as well as earn referral fees.

Offer local area packs

Many renters moving into a property are new to an area, so offering a moving-in pack that contains regulatory necessities such as a copy of the Gas Safety certificate, but also guides to local shops, bars, service and amenities will make new tenants feel much more loved.

Help them move in

Many letting agents in the UK offer tenants a concierge service to hand-hold them through their first days in a property on top of the usual keys handover and contract signing meet-up. These concierge services offer heightened property management services during the initial days and weeks of a tenancy, but also ongoing maintenance support. It is argued that these will become increasingly important to letting agents as more built-to-rent blocks are completed around the UK, many of which offer their tenants round-the-clock dedicated buildings and property management.

By Sheraz Dar

Sheraz Dar is the CEO of CreditLadder. CreditLadder allows a tenant's regular rent payment to count towards building their credit history - something which, until recently, was not possible. CreditLadder have achieved a number of successes in the past two years. Most notably, they were recent winners of HM Treasury's Rent Recognition Challenge which included receiving a significant six figure grant.  
Sheraz began his career within the soft drinks industry at Britvic and Pepsi. Among his early career highlights was launching of J20 - one of the UK's most successful soft drinks launches.
He is also an active investor and advisor in a number of start-ups across FinTech and PropTech. His investments include OpenRent where he is also a Non-Executive Director - Open Rent is now the biggest letting agent in the UK by volume. 
Sheraz Dar

Written by Sheraz Dar

Sheraz Dar is the CEO of CreditLadder

tenant fees bill | lettings agents | tenants | tenants with pets | future

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