Surge of tenant moves predicted – how can agents and landlords prepare?

There is likely to be a continued surge of tenant moves in the coming weeks as lockdown measures are eased and the rental market’s recent recovery continues.

Letting agents and landlords are therefore being advised by No Letting Go to prepare for granting a wave of new tenancies while also managing the ongoing impact of Covid-19.

The UK’s largest provider of inventory services says that an efficiently executed pre-tenancy process can pave the way for a smooth tenancy and increase satisfaction for all stakeholders.

Lockdown: lettings market bounces back strongly

Following the reopening of the property market on May 13, evidence from numerous sources suggests that rental activity has rebounded impressively and at a faster rate than the sales market.

According to Goodlord, the number of completed lets was above the 2019 average for all but six days in June, while new tenancy applications remained 90% above 2019 levels last month.

London agency Chestertons reports that the number of new tenants registering for a new property was up 43% in June compared to May, with figures for viewings, offers and agreed tenancies all significantly higher over the same period.

“It’s clear that tenants have been buoyed by the recovery of the rental market and that due to the extraordinary circumstances, activity in recent weeks has been significantly higher than the annual average,” says Nick Lyons, CEO and Founder of No Letting Go.

“The combination of those tenants whose contracts are expiring and need to move, those who wanted to move before or during lockdown but couldn’t and those that decided they want to move during lockdown, means the next few weeks and months are likely to be extremely busy for agents and landlords.”

Battling virus impact while remaining on top of everything

Lyons says dealing with the ongoing issues caused by Covid-19 while maintaining high levels of service and compliance will be a big challenge for property professionals.

“First and foremost, agents and landlords need to ensure all safety precautions are taken and government guidance is followed. This in itself has been a steep learning curve for the industry.”

“The balancing act of achieving this while continuing to stay on top of all the administrative processes required to grant a new tenancy marks the next step for agents and landlords to negotiate.”

He cites the raft of legislation that now governs the private rental sector with landlords needing to comply with over 150 pieces of legislation, up from 118 (32%) in 2010, according to the Residential Landlords Association. This increasing pressure is demonstrated by the introduction of mandatory electricity checks for new lets this month, as well as changes to the Tenant Fees Act in June.

“We know from experience that getting all the ducks in a row at the start of a tenancy can help to reduce the chances of disputes or the potential need for eviction. It also increases the chance of a happy tenancy and the subsequent prospects of a long-term residency which benefits all parties,” explains Lyons.

“As well as meeting all regulations and carrying out the relevant health and safety checks, it’s important that processes such as referencing tenants, carrying out a thorough inventory check-in and monitoring properties through mid-term inspections are given due care and attention.”

“Landlords and agents should never take the risk of accepting potentially problematic tenants or not having the necessary records in place to protect against property damage or rent arrears. However, during a time of such uncertainty and financial instability, protecting investments is vital,” says Lyons.

He acknowledges that the workload of agents and landlords who self-manage is likely to be considerably higher for many months to come as they aim to overcome numerous obstacles.

“For letting agents, having an adaptable and dedicated staff will be more crucial than ever. Meanwhile, all stakeholders will need to make sure they work with the best industry suppliers and use technology to increase efficiency to meet compliance obligations while a quality service,” Lyons concludes.