Cutting out the errors
The term “non-compliance” might bring to mind “rogue agents” deliberately breaking the law, but human error or forgetfulness may be just as prevalent.
Already facing a significant compliance burden, the industry’s load has only increased in recent years, with prominent examples including GDPR and the tenant fees ban. It stands to reason that many in the industry could probably do with a helping hand to keep up.
This is where a tech solution can really come into its own. Automated systems, for example, can ensure compliance is happening in the background with limited or no human interference – just nudging users where necessary to remind them of the law.
Making things simpler and quicker
The main draw of automation is how much more convenient and error-free it makes the laborious task of executing repetitive, error-prone business processes. We don’t think twice about tapping our contactless cards everywhere we go or ordering a takeaway online. Good PropTech solutions should offer the same convenience.
And nowhere is this needed more than in ticking compliance boxes – regulatory admin can be fiddly, complex, time-consuming and very onerous. If the relevant processes can be digitised, this will likely save agents a considerable amount of time, which can be used to focus on growing their business.
Reacting to new changes
But technology cannot operate in a vacuum, regardless of a fast and ever-changing regulatory landscape. The best PropTech should be flexible and adaptable to offer a credible response to a fluid rental environment.
New legislation and regulations are being introduced with high frequency, and an adaptable tech solution should be flexible enough to allow new rules to be incorporated into existing processes.
With major rental reform still coming and the likely enforcement of ROPA recommendations looming in the future, firms with the ability to adapt quickly and efficiently while remaining transparent will be at an advantage.
No tech is 100% perfect
Like anything, tech is not infallible. As a result, an over-reliance on it could prove costly if there isn’t a human review system in place. This isn’t a reason not to use technology, just a reminder to rely on common sense as well: we all use Google Maps to get around, but we also know better than to follow it the wrong way down a one-way street.
To ensure full compliance, you should check regularly that your processes and protocols are working correctly and efficiently post-implementation. The best PropTech will do the job for you in the background 99.9% of the time – but it’s always good to do regular health checks and have a fallback option just in case.
The loss of the personal touch
Relying too heavily on technology alone for all compliance issues could also potentially cause issues in the personal relationships with your clients, whether they are landlords, tenants, sellers or investors.
Generic, automated e-mails and chatbot facilities can save you time and help you respond to queries more quickly, but they can also lack nuance – not ideal for something like compliance where details matter. It’s important that there is a real person to answer any compliance queries in addition to bots.
On the other hand, improving your compliance record with technology can also be a good thing for your clients. Results speak for themselves: if your tech-assisted agency earns a reputation for being on top of compliance requirements, clients are likely to feel far more reassured.
Even though I’m a great believer in technology, I’ve said it many times before – it will never entirely replace the human workforce because there are things, particularly from a personal and emotional point of view, that we can’t leave to our software.
But from a compliance point of view, it can be a great time-saver and a force multiplier for your agents – giving them more time to deliver that vital personal service.
*Neil Cobbold is Chief Sales Officer at PayProp