You may have locked the doors to your lettings office and retreated to your living room with a laptop but the private rental sector is one part of the property industry that keeps ticking over, even during the current pandemic.
Tenants will be looking to their letting agent for advice and guidance during this time, especially if you are acting in a property management capacity. Keeping in regular contact with renters gives them reassurance they haven’t been left to fend for themselves. It really is amazing how a ‘phone call can build relationships and provide a sense of safety.
There are a number of key information points you should be sending to tenants but how you choose to communicate is up to you (and will probably be influenced by your demographic). Our advice is to cover all bases with traditional letters, emails, telephone calls, text messages and updates on social media channels. Here’s what canopy suggests:-
· Let renters know you’re still open: ensure people know you’re picking up emails and answering calls. Communicate your business hours and contact numbers,especially if they have temporarily changed, and include a postal address as well.
· Provide an emergency contact: one thing is almost guaranteed – a property emergency will happen outside of business hours. Let renters know the number to call if they have an urgent maintenance issue or emergency within their rental property.
· Offer financial information: some renters will be anxious about money during the pandemic, and letting agents have a vital role to play in mediating between tenants and landlords. Make yourself approachable when it comes to financial advice - we’ve prepared a blog for renters who can’t pay their rent if you’d like a starting point.
· Send advice if the tenancy is about to expire: renters will be worried if their tenancy agreement is expiring in the coming weeks, so nip concerns in the bud by communicating a ‘next step’ action plan. You may like to outline options, such as a possible agreement extension or move to a vacant let.
· Educate about property access: let tenants know there may be times when access to their home is required, even during Covid-19. You should highlight your legal, compliance and duty of care obligations concerning aspects such as gas and electrical safety, and perhaps list a few instances when access should be granted. It’s also wise to explain how you plan to follow the Government’s social distancing and hygiene rules when making access arrangements.
· Start a blog: with physical contact limited, many people are turning to the internet for advice.Use your time to start a blog on topical tenant issues. You can use the content to create social media posts and also include the url links in emails to renters. Don’t forget to regularly add new blogs, especially if the Government makes announcements relating to renting and moving home.
· Offer help, no strings attached: lastly but maybe most importantly, the offer of help will be appreciated – especially as your tenants could be shielding,self isolating or a key worker. If you suspect this is the case, checking in with these renters can make all the difference. For others, safely leaving a care package or small shop on the doorstep with a note will bring a smile to their face.
If you would like more advice on improving the letting agent/renter relationship, please contact us today.