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The impact of COVID-19 on midterm property visits

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Darren Clapp CEO of KPR, Propertymark Industry Supplier, discusses how the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic continues to cause global concern and economic hardship for agents, tenants, and landlords and how KPR is supporting the industry.

Most companies already have business contingency plans in place, intending to effectively sustain continuing operations following events like natural disasters, cyber incidents, and power outages. However, these generally do not consider the unknown territories of quarantines, extended school closures, and added travel restrictions that may occur in the case of a global health emergency.

This crisis has certainly raised several unique challenges within key areas surrounding the workforce when it comes to property midterm visits, as routine visits have extra diligence just to book an appointment to ensure an agent and tenant are safe. It also raises issues by simply having the staff conduct the midterms, for example, furlough staff, staff with childcare issues, redundancy, and so on.

HOW THIS HAS AFFECTED THE FUTURE OF THE LETTINGS INDUSTRY

Business continuity planning does not account for the uncertainty of an evolving pandemic. Letting agents are in a difficult position, like every business, as they still need to validate their service levels to landlords by ensuring the tenant is looking after the property and making certain that things like smoke detectors are still working and maintained. However, due to the impact of COVID-19, letting agents should be keeping their property visits to an absolute minimum.

Fortunately, there is now property self-assessment software for tenants available, which has so far, been very successful and could possibly change the way midterm visits are conducted going forward, minimising potential future health risks to all parties concerned and offering a reduced level of intrusion for tenants.

The software is designed as simple to use in the form of a smartphone app that has a basic checklist to complete, ensuring nothing is overlooked. It prompts tenants to test smoke alarms and has functions to report any maintenance issues and upload photos, which, once submitted to the letting agent, then produces a nice report on the property. The app can also be used as a simple communication tool between the tenant and the agent, maintaining a good relationship. An added benefit to this software is that it reduces the number of staff out on the road, lowering fuel emissions, and most importantly for an agent now, lowering in-house agency costs.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE FEEDBACK SO FAR

The feedback has been very positive from all parties; agents are saving costs, tenants have reported that they find the app a better way to communicate and report maintenance and landlords are very impressed by the agent’s proactive and forward-thinking approach to fulfil their obligations during this difficult time.

HOW SELF-ASSESSMENTS WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON FUTURE MIDTERM VISITS WHEN COVID-19 HAS PASSED

KPR believes that agents will prefer to alternate the tenant self-assessment method and routine midterm visits together, rather than conducting four agent-led midterms per property, per year. This will have lots of positives for an agent, as it helps tenants get used to using a communication tool that will reduce telephone and email interaction, so will improve an agent’s efficiency. It will also help by again reducing an agent’s high overheads, and most tenants will be more receptive with this approach as there is reduced inconvenience to them, as visits from an agent will have halved.

For more information contact KPR at www.kpr.global or telephone 0208 54 22 333.