Making sure the check-in process for tenants is carried out in a smooth manner is more important than ever, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Restrictions are tightening across the country again as Britain prepares itself for a fully fledged second wave, and while a second national lockdown seems unlikely, there could be further curbs on everyday freedoms as the weather worsens and the annual flu season begins to rear its head.
But what can you do to ensure the pre-tenancy process is as seamless as possible? Here, we outline some top tips for agents eager to impress clients more than ever this winter.
During normal times, good communication is vital when it comes to ensuring a smooth, successful tenancy, but this even more so the case at present, when many people are uncertain and confused about what they can and can’t do.
From viewing protocols to playing by the rules on in-branch appointments, to ensuring all your landlords and tenants know where they stand with regards to tenancy agreements, inventories, fees and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), it’s vital that communication is clear and consistent throughout.
Make sure you know the preferred method of communication for your landlords and would-be tenants, so you can contact them via a medium which they are likely to check on a regular basis and respond to. For many, this will still be a call, text or email, but for an increasing number it might be via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime or other social media platforms.
Emphasise the importance of the tenancy agreement
This is the contract signed between your landlords and tenants, setting out the legal terms and conditions of a tenancy and the rules and regulations tenants must abide by – for example, whether they can have a pet, redecorate or smoke indoors. The tenancy agreement can be written down or be a spoken oral agreement. It is, though, far more preferable for it to be written down somewhere, so there is an evidence trail to follow should any disputes occur at a later date. Tenancy Agreements provided by TLA.co.uk – Visit the Landlord InterACTIVE™ service on the homepage.
The tenancy agreement is something tenants should read carefully before they commit to renting a home, to limit the chances of any issues further down the line. If, for example, a landlord has made it explicitly clear that sub-letting is not allowed and late-night parties are a breach of the tenancy agreement, and a tenant goes ahead and does this anyway, the potential for serious disputes goes up.
Tenancy documents – such as tenancy contracts and tenancy agreements – can be signed electronically with digital or e-signatures holding the same weight as physical ones. In these Covid times, where face-to-face interaction is advised against, and remote solutions are being encouraged, you may want to arrange for landlords and tenants to sign in this manner, as well as prioritising digital deposit registration, digital offers and digital referencing.
Make it digital
In days gone by, tenants would likely have come into the office to complete the application process for a new home and sign their tenancy agreement – as well as potentially stopping by for keys and any other queries.
Even before Covid, the trend for people visiting agent branches in-person had been on the decline, but this has been supercharged by the pandemic, with the government actively encouraging appointment-only visits to branches and pushing for remote solutions wherever possible.
This includes remote viewings in the first instance, to ensure that a tenant is serious about a property before visiting it in person.
On the viewing itself, there are a wide range of protocols that all parties – agent, landlord and tenant – must abide by, from face coverings and social distancing to a limit on the number of people in a property at any one time and no mixing of households.
If something can be managed digitally at present, this is preferable given the restrictions at play – which are also much stricter in certain parts of the country deemed more at risk of virus spread.
Some of the tenancy process was slowly moving online even before January this year, but the desire for digital solutions – streamlined, simplified and highly effective – has gone up a couple of notches since Covid-19 became a part of our lives.
Too much of the current process is bogged down with paperwork and inefficient systems, but agents using fast, streamlined systems can really stand out from the crowd.
Tenancy admin, and the tenant referencing process, can be cumbersome and time-consuming if you don’t have the right kind of procedures in place to speed these up. Again, this is where digital solutions come into their own.
Know the Covid rules
To ensure a smooth pre-tenancy process, it’s vital that letting agents and landlords adhere to the guidance given by government on how to safely let property during the coronavirus pandemic.
Landlords and letting agents should not conduct viewings in properties where tenants are symptomatic or self-isolating, while any visits to a property must be made in accordance with the government’s guidelines on working in other people’s homes and social distancing.
The government also advises letting agents and landlords to take steps to ensure any properties are ready for new tenants, including cleaning to minimise any potential spread of the virus in line with government advice.
Additionally, it’s recommended that letting agents and landlords consider how best to conduct tenancy check-ins for new tenancies, ‘taking care to follow government advice on social distancing and public health advice’ to minimise the spread of infection. Right to Rent checks can, at present, be conducted remotely due to Covid-19.
The government also suggests that agents and landlords look for ways to ensure that in-person payments, referencing or checks can be conducted remotely instead, taking further legal or professional advice if required to implement these properly.
We know that effortless rental transactions are more crucial than ever at present, and here at Propoly we are doing our bit to make that a reality.
We help your landlords and tenants to get to the move-in-date faster by inviting tenants to submit digital offers, pay holding fees, sign ASTs and pay move-in monies all online with minimal manual effort from your side. You can also generate a deal on behalf of landlords by using details provided by tenants digitally, and generate the tenancy agreement instantly by selecting custom options.
Our software also automatically provides your landlords and tenants with instant updates on every step of the process, from viewing feedback, tenancy documents and status updates throughout the tenancy progression process for landlords, while tenants can see status updates for themselves and co-tenants, and complete their references, signing and paying monies online.