Although first-time buyers are getting older (the average age of a first time buyer was 33 in 2015-16, up from 31 the decade before), it’s a well-recognised fact that the majority of tenants are between 18-35.
What hasn’t, perhaps, been so well-documented is the relationship that this smartphone generation of tenants (even 35 year-olds will have ended their teens with a handset in their hands) has with technology, and how that applies to repairs and maintenance management software.
It's a generational thing
Landlords and letting agents would do well to remember that the majority of tenants in this sector are used to living without a landline. That, and an increasing dependence on their mobile phones (students polled in a study by the University of Maryland described the phantom feeling of a "missing limb" when going out and about without their iPhone or tablet), means that in case of a problem, a lot of young people are more comfortable sending an email or filling out an online report about a repair than they are picking up their phone and making a call about it.
This fear of phone calls is amplified by the frequency of repairs – the Fixflo Report 2017 found that each property generates around 3.67 repairs per year. That translates into quite a few calls for someone who doesn’t even want to pick up the phone.
Even tenants unfazed by reporting issues by phone might suffer from the losing face factor. As a generation, we’re less handy than ever before – research earlier this year revealed that one in eight 18-35 year-olds can’t change a lightbulb, while one in five still turn to their parents for help in household chores.
This is where repairs software comes into its own. Not only does it spare tenants’ blushes when it comes to reporting simple things around the house (blown fuse anyone?) the right repairs and maintenance software will let a tenant know if the issue they’re reporting is their responsibility or the landlord’s. If it’s something that the tenant should be responsible for, repairs and maintenance software can offer simple image-based instructions on how to fix the issue.
Additionally, for a generation looking for quick solutions and responsive feedback, repairs and maintenance software offers them an immediacy an agent would struggle to match. Not only can the tenant report issues around the clock on every single day of the year, they can also log on at any time to check the status of their repair – from the moment they reported it, through to the appointment of a contractor and the completion of the repair.
Obviously, it can be dangerous to deal in stereotypes. Not all 18-35 year-olds are more comfortable on screen than on the phone; just as many millennials are just as accomplished around their houses as the generation before them were. But, with the letting fees ban likely to come into effect next year and the market tightening, even die-hard technophobes will need to accept that a change is coming. Most agencies won’t have the staff capacity to dedicate to managing repairs reporting – and with the advances in repairs and maintenance software, they no longer need to.