You don’t need to go far to find news about the UK lettings market. From the banning of tenant fees to proposed new changes from MPs, everyone wants to have their say on how to ‘fix’ lettings in the United Kingdom.
But is it even broken? Sensationalist headlines about rogue landlords make for a great read, but they don’t reflect the reality of the landscape. And no one knows the actual story more so than letting agents, who are out there in the field every day.
The real effort lies in keeping up with an ever-changing rental market - one that is being driven heavily by technology.
Traditional marketing methods, such as canvassing, worked for so long. And while they still have a role to play, the emphasis on digital and the way in which potential tenants approach tech will shape the lettings industry for a generation.
The tech revolution
Technology’s impact is far reaching. Every day seems to conjure up a way for people to enjoy easier access, whether it’s looking after money, watching your favourite show or booking a holiday.
The lettings industry is part of this process, too. After all, a portion of the people using this tech are renters.
Everything is about ease of use. In a world where the next trend has started just seconds after the last, keeping people focused is proving more difficult by the day. Everyone wants easily digestible information.
Letting agents are having to adapt to trends, so they can keep providing a service that sees renters and landlords look at them as the de facto way to rent and let homes. For many agents, this change has already begun - and they are re-thinking how they go about finding modern-day tenants.
The modern-day renter
The 21st century renter has expectations that run deeper than merely ‘finding somewhere to live'. For them, renting is a lifestyle, and they want the best lifestyle available.
How people function on a day-to-day basis is seeing one of the biggest shifts in recent history. Instant gratification is now a requirement; not a desire. Convenience is key: from ordering a taxi with a quick click to having food delivered to your door - and it’s all happening in our pockets.
Renters are keen to the tech trend, and this mentality will keep evolving, and the lettings industry isn’t immune to refresh. Handling the entire process online, from arranging a viewing to having an offer accepted and signing the contracts is now becoming an expectation rather than a desire.
A desire for a more seamless way to rent a home isn’t just born out of keenness of tech. It’s also in line with day-to-day living on renters. Communication has always been a sticking point for renters, especially if they’re looking at several properties with different agents.
It’s one of the key reasons there has been a need for an app like Movebubble, where renters can search for properties, speak to multiple agents directly and arrange viewings much in the same way they can order a meal from Deliveroo.
Renters want to operate at times that suit them throughout the day; not a rigid 9-5 structure that limits itself to weekdays. Letting agents that cotton on the trend are best positioned to move with the times and keep providing a stellar service.
That doesn’t equate to a 1am viewing on a Friday. It does, however, provide a deeper level of communication that helps to build trust. And if high-quality renters trust their letting agent, landlords have even more reason to instruct with them.
The living experience
In days gone by, renters would pinpoint price as the deciding factor when it came to finding somewhere to live. More often than not, the plan was to rent somewhere cheap while saving enough money to get onto the property ladder.
While the British obsession with owning a home still persists, many people are changing tune and instead looking for a rental property they can call ‘home’. This has left a growing desire for longer tenancies and a willingness to pay more for a good-quality home.
These ambitions have created the modern-day, professional renters - someone who sees renting as a life choice more so than an inconvenient solution to rising property prices. Renters want flexible contracts, pet-friendly homes, and more of a say about how and where they live.
The modern-day letting agent
Today, renters are taking up more column inches than ever before. With the tenant fee ban and zero deposits, they are no longer an afterthought in the industry. With controversial plans for rent controls also making headline news, it seems that attention will only increase.
By 2021, a quarter of all UK households will be in the private rental sector. These figures represent an opportunity for letting agents to tap into a growing market and modernise their service to make sure renter needs are met.
By utilising technology and giving renters a transparent way to find their new home, savvy letting agents can put themselves at the forefront of the market. The result will see them grow their influence as that all-important bridge between renters and landlords.
*Simona Bojāre is PR Executive at Movebubble