Tenant numbers are increasing. Good news for landlords and letting agents. However, the recent spike in numbers combined with increased government regulation of the sector means letting agents are faced with more admin work than ever before.
In light of this, utility management service, Tenant Shop, is urging agents to consider solutions which can help them to reduce their administrative burden so they can continue to offer an effective service to landlords and tenants.
According to the firm, two of the issues agents should consider when it comes to reducing workload include notifying local councils and utility companies about tenancy changeovers and dealing with stray bills.
Increased workload for letting agents
Letting agents' workload has been increasing steadily as the private rental sector (PRS) continues to grow. The most recent English Housing Survey (2017-18) shows that there are approximately 4.5 million households privately renting, equivalent to 19% of all households. The size of the PRS has hovered at around a fifth of all households since 2013-14, but has doubled in size since 2002.
There has also been an influx of family renters, with approximately 795,000 households with dependent children entering the PRS since 2007-08. The proportion of middle-aged renters (35-44-year-olds) has risen too, climbing from 13% to 28% during the same period.
Glenn Seddington, managing director of Tenant Shop, comments: "Feedback from our agents indicates that this influx of tenants over the last two decades has equated to a significant increase in extra work for letting agents in the form of referencing checks, inventories and drafting tenancy agreements.
As a result, this means more moves in, out and within the PRS, which creates more work for agents when it comes to managing utilities in rental properties and helping landlords to deal with void periods."
Fees ban could pile on the pressure
Alongside a rise in the number of renters in recent years, the PRS has also become more regulated with landlords and agents responsible for carrying out immigration checks on prospective tenants and ensuring all properties meet a minimum energy efficiency standard.
The latest piece of legislation is the Tenant Fees Act, set to be introduced on June 1, which will see upfront fees banned and security and holding deposits capped.
Tenant Shop says that as well as affecting agents' finances, the Tenant Fees Act could unwittingly lead to increased pressures on workload.
Seddington explains: "It's widely expected that there could be a rush of tenant moves immediately after fees are banned as tenants who have delayed moving home in recent months to avoid paying fees all spring into action at once.
A flurry of moves over the summer, when considered in the context of an already inflated tenant population and increased administrative burden, could put even more pressure on an already stretched workforce of letting agents."
Reducing admin burden is key to long-term success
As the amount of work letting agents are required to carry out continues to rise, finding solutions and partners that can help to reduce the administrative burden is becoming crucial.
Seddington concludes: "Difficult market conditions in 2019 mean agents need to use all the available tools that can help to take the pressure of their staff. Solutions which save time, automate tasks and simplify processes are invaluable and can help an agency to deliver the same high levels of service, despite an ever-increasing workload."
And with measures like the fees ban becoming a reality, the need to increase profitability is greater than ever this year."