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By Stuart Armstrong

Copywriter, Fixflo

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Revealed - Key challenges to agency businesses in 2021

Fixflo’s webinar on February 9 saw an industry panel debate 2021’s threats and opportunities for letting agents.

The panel discussed a range of challenges brought about by new and updated regulations and increasing requirements for operational efficiencies.

The main takeaway was that agents who prepare as soon as possible will have a sizeable advantage over those who are slower to react.

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One panellist noted the importance of understanding areas of data protection law such as subject access requests and cyber-security breaches to avoid falling foul of the UK GDPR (2021).

In light of the UK having left the EU on 1 January this year, organisations which process the data of EU residents should be especially careful to have safeguards in place to ensure the free flow of that data.

While issues such as April’s deadline for all rented homes in England to meet electrical safety standards may be on most agents’ radars, the webinar also shone a light on some lesser-known challenges businesses face and how to prepare for them.

One such challenge comes from the High Court’s decision on Northwood Solihull Ltd v Fearn & Ors, which could greatly affect landlords and corporate agents.

Agents should re-evaluate their historical tenancy deposit prescribed information certificates and remedy any shortcomings. They must also scrutinise their business’s approach for signing future documents to ensure the right prescribed information is provided in every tenancy.

Unless an appeal case results in a ruling otherwise, agents could be liable for claims amounting to three months’ deposit.

It was also observed that whilst rent arrears data across MRI Software’s residential platforms did not present a spike compared to the previous year, agents are being required to do more with lower fees.

This requires the use of PropTech solutions to eradicate ‘pinch points’, points in operations where human hours are unnecessarily wasted.

One panellist, the director of a well-known letting agency, attested that with an established, cloud-based system already in place prior to lockdown, their agency was able to adapt to remote working within hours of the government’s announcement back in March 2020.

“Even after Covid-19 is behind us, I do believe that the virtual side of things will stay. It will weed out the time-wasters, the tyre kickers, and it will make our business more efficient,” they said.

“Communication is key and tech has freed us up to talk to our customers and offer reassurance when they needed it the most.”

Agents can watch the full webinar recording here.

*Stuart Armstrong is a Copywriter at Fixflo

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