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Get paid on time: Q&A with PayProp's Neil Cobbold

Having launched 13 years ago, PayProp, part of Humanstate Group, an international private technology services group, has grown into a leading processor of rental payments for the property management industry, and today serves around 200 letting and managing agents across the UK. 

The company claims that its platform sets the standard for speed and accuracy of payments as well as cost and payment status transparency, offering agents complete transactional control and regulatory compliance. 

To find out more, this week we talk to the chief operating officer at PayProp, Neil Cobbold (below). 


Neil, could you please tell us about PayProp’s product? 

PayProp is an automated payment and reconciliation platform specific for the letting industry which is both more powerful and efficient than traditional banking or software solutions, which don't always perform the function a letting agent's needs, ensuring that there is no room for error. 

As automated rental payment and reconciliation platform, how can you help agents save time and automate the whole process? 

PayProp has the ability to automate the whole payment, reconciliation and communication process down to just a couple of button presses. But an agent benefits from much more than this. 

The removal of human error, the automation service consistency helps to promote the business and not just save time.

How can Payprop enhance what agents offer their landlords and tenants? 

The biggest reason for loss of tenants or landlords is the same problem with any consumer based industry - let’s not hide from the fact that agents are B2C providers, and that means communication is crucial. 

Our system ensures that tenants know that their rent account is always correct and that they will always be provided with an instant receipt, invoice or statement.

Meanwhile, landlords can also rest assured that their statement information is correct, and that they will always be the first to be notified using actual bank transactional information that is 100% accurate whenever there is a payment owed or due. 

How do you streamline what can often be a time-consuming and complicated process into a slick daily task? 

PayProp has had 13 years of being a letting specific service to make sure an agent’s process is streamlined and automated as much as possible. 

What’s more, an intelligent rules-based system can help remove repetitive tasks and bring simplicity to the reconciliation process. 

Can Payprop really change the way a business works? 

Yes - we can enhance the way a business works. PayProp has been built to adapt to an agency’s current practices. There is the ability to enhance their service but if an agency just wants to automate their current process, then we have the flexibility to do this as well.

How can Payprop help ensure that tenants pay their rent on time? 

Modern communication and technology are changing the tenant landscape. Tenants are starting to expect instant service, reminders and automated communication as a service standard. 

PayProp can make sure that you not only meet, but exceed and continually develop to stay ahead of these expectations. Our UK based development team are always working to enhance the service looking at these types of factors. 

How do you help ensure that landlords and suppliers are paid on time? 

Speed of payment is essential in today’s market. However, sometimes speed can equate to human error, duplication, lost communication or missed payments. PayProp allows you to meet this speed of service without having to cope with these downsides.

How can Payprop help agents grow their business? 

Because we help to free up an agent’s time when it comes to accounting, they are free to focus more on agency work, which in turn allows them to win more business. 

Most of our clients have seen their portfolio of managed properties grow since using our service, with our three largest clients having grown their portfolio by an average of 23% in the 12 months to June 2017. 

The heightened service that PayProp offers means that landlords are less likely to leave, as they will always get paid on time [as long as the tenant pays the rent]. Aside from client retention, agents can also justify charging a higher fee, thanks to our enhanced service.  

Ultimately, PayProp allows agents more time to focus on front of house activities and growth, and that is whether they manage 100 properties or a 1,000, because our service means that agents will have no problem with scalability and target growth, which can only help improve their business and reputation.

Various agents claim Payprop has 'revolutionised’ their business, but how? 

For some agents, it will revolutionise their business, for others it may only enhance. What we offer is a service allowing all agents irrespective of size to achieve consistency in providing the highest standards in client money handling, communication and service standards. 

What support and training do you provide agents with?

All PayProp clients receive free training and support for the life they are with us. We provide a support service which will always speak to someone and our UK based payment specialists are on hand to handle any training or support query our clients may have.

How can the payment system provide agents and their clients with greater freedom? 

PayProp is a cloud based solution optimised for any device. Whether in the office or on the beach, you can make sure your business operates without fail. We also provide our clients with an enhanced banking service allowing payments to be processed through our system until 10pm and still being sent to the bank same day. 

Why should more agents embrace PropTech and why do you see it as such a benefit to the industry? 

The landscape of letting in the UK is changing, whether we embrace it or not. Government initiatives and taxes will continue to change how the market operates. An agency, though, can make sure that their business thrives by embracing these changes and adapting accordingly and PropTech is one of the ways to achieve this.

We shouldn’t be afraid of change but adapt to it and realise the benefits this brings to our clients and by association the industry as a whole.

How can agents use PropTech to combat fraud and raise the levels of professionalism in the industry? 

In lettings, due to non-regulation, we are behind the times in relation to some practices already in place for other client money handling industries, however with CMP becoming mandatory and other changes on the horizon this could soon change.

PayProp is a bank integrated system that operates an indelible audit log allowing you, with free unlimited users, to track exactly what every employee does within the system, but more importantly, provide evidence that you have a robust client accounting process giving visibility and accountability through the agency.

What are the biggest challenges you face within the UK market? 

The biggest challenge is the uncertainty. At the moment, lots of agencies are unsure of the future and that breeds stagnation which is actually harmful in such a changing market. It took us two years to enter the UK, find a banking partner and then in a non regulated market look for industry recognition. 

We did that by becoming an affinity partner [now Platinum Industry Supplier] with ARLA Propertymark. The ability to show this track record and UK based vetting has allowed agents to make the decision during this period and overwhelmingly our agents are thriving in this uncertain marketplace because of the advantage we provide.

Finally, does PayProp offer agents value for money?  

We are not cheap because we do not offer a cheap product. But we are pound for pound the best product out there, and there is no contract involved, and so if agents aren’t satisfied they can leave at anytime. 

As part of our entry to The ESTAS, we surveyed our clients, and 96.1% of respondents said that we offered their business ‘excellent value for money’.

*Marc Da Silva is Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today Features Editor. You can follow him on Twitter @propertyjourno


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