Online-Only Letting and Management Agencies

The Letting Line - Enfieild - News Feb 24 - Online-Only Letting and Management Agencies

Online-Only Letting and Management Agencies

While sitting on the train into London the other day, the passengers in my open-planned compartment were having a conversation. Usually, I try to blot out unavoidably listening to other people’s conversations, but this one really caught my interest.

The conversation was about letting agents, in particular the online variety. This particular lady’s daughter had gone traveling and quite sensibly decided to rent her flat out while she was away. The two ladies chatting were of middle age, so I’m guessing that the daughter was in her mid-twenties. As someone who has only ever known life with the internet (how scary is that for those of us who clearly remember life before that?!!), she would have been very much used to dealing with everyday life online without personal assistance.

If you think about it, most of us are now so used to unassisted online transactions, easily buying from Amazon, buying and selling on eBay and even ordering our new cars and our weekly groceries online, so it would seem obvious and straightforward to do the same when it came to letting her property. The problem is that it isn’t a physical product we’re buying or selling, it’s looking for a stranger to live in your home and trust they’ll look after it while you’re away. Very different!

You don’t even need to use an agent to let your property, be it an online or high street agent. You could advertise it yourself somewhere online and you will be inundated with potential tenants wanting to take residency in your home. And as long as you know how to do the necessary reference checks, complete all the relevant legal documentation, make sure your property complies with all the regulations, arrange your inventory, ensure your tenant is legally allowed to rent, you’ve served the relevant notices and protected the tenant’s deposit, you’re good to go!

However, when it comes to managing the property day to day, how would that work? What if the rent doesn’t turn up? What if there’s an urgent repair needed? Who can you speak to? And this is exactly the problem my fellow passenger encountered. While her daughter was on the other side of the globe in an opposite time zone, it was left to her mum to try and sort the problem out. The daughter realised that the rent hadn’t arrived in her account, but the agent’s online help was no use. So, she got her mother involved, asking her to help out because the time zones didn’t allow her to phone during office hours. However, she encountered the same problem, with phone calls going unanswered. The mum emailed the agent only to receive an unhelpful message back. Amusingly, what also really frustrated the mum was the message used such poor grammar, using no capitals, no punctuation, text abbreviations and various spelling mistakes!

After days of chasing and stress, the rent was eventually paid. The lady appreciated her daughter wanting to save money, but questioned whether it was actually cost effective. She wanted the ability to phone and get straight to the point, or even be able to pop into the office if she had to. Instead, she was anxious whether her daughter would get her rent paid, and her daughter was penny-less on the other side of the world feeling very vulnerable. The group left the train just as she was about to go into telling her friend about repairs that were not carried out to the property, so unfortunately I didn’t get to hear the end of the story!

We at Atkinsons & The Letting Line have been helping generations move home for over 50 years. While we completely embrace modern technology and use the internet to its full benefit, we believe that there is still very much a place for having a physical office with real people you can talk to. After all, it’s not everyday you rent out your property, so it’s comforting to know that it’s being looked after by a friendly, experienced and professional team who are easily contactable and who are fully accountable.

We are proud to have been professionally qualified Propertymark (ARLA)  agents since 1997, a testament to our commitment to provide a high quality service looking after our clients’ biggest investments and their best interests. If you’re interested to find out more about our letting and management services, please contact our Letting Director, Sarah Beesley, you can contact Sarah here.