Today we are writing to update our clients with an important business and market update.
First of all, we would like to thank you for holding your nerve and working with us to a point where we have now let the majority of our properties despite the very tough set of circumstances this year, and allowing us to further develop the dedicated services we continue striving towards.
Reflecting on the week before lockdown when we received notices to leave from around 45% of our total portfolio, a figure which went up considerably in May, we are delighted to advise that we have only a small number of properties on the market for let, of which an even smaller amount are HMOs. This marks a phenomenal effort by our property team, representing over double our normal summer workload in terms of tenancy movements.
At the time of writing, our fantastic client accounts team has less than 1% rent arrears which again, represents countless hours of working with tenants experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic. We would like to specifically thank the many clients who have shown such compassion to their residents and flexibility when it comes to changes of tenancy, rent adjustments, and early release where necessary.
These recent events have caused us to reflect on our one point of contact approach to property management. This method of working allows us to provide the unbeatable levels of services to our landlords, investors, and tenants that they would expect – whether that be for the management of their asset, or for the home in which they live. Our philosophy is that we ensure each member of our team is trained to a high standard so that they are all well-placed to handle any sort of enquiry thrown their way. Having a flat organisational structure means each point of contact has full accountability for decisions, as opposed to having a qualified point of contact that delegates to a less qualified staff member. This means our clients will always be talking to someone qualified enough to answer their queries when it comes to the administrative, operational, and monetary aspects of running their property, and to know for certain that they handled it themselves.
However, our primary contact approach is not without its challenges;
ARLA once said that there are over 160 separate pieces of legislation that dictate how a property should be managed. To truly provide one point or primary point of contact service, the individual holding such a role has to have amassed an extensive technical, legal, and market knowledge to safely manage your investment.
Due to ever-increasing compliance, more and more information must be communicated in written form. In the process of arranging a safety certificate, we send/receive a minimum of 4 emails. We arrange somewhere in the region of 2500 safety certificates a year. We send over a hundred emails in two weeks concerning a standard HMO tenancy set up. We have commenced over a hundred such tenancies in the last eight weeks.
Looking to the long term, to address these potential issues, we have made the decision to hire a 5th highly-skilled Property Manager which will mean our entire portfolio will be broken down into 5 more manageable mini portfolios, rather than the previous 4, meaning each Property Manager will be handling circa 80-90 properties to ensure maximum attention to our landlords and tenants.
After recently achieving a 25% increase in customer satisfaction across a range of performance indicators, we hope this alteration will allow us to further build upon this excellent feedback so that we can continue providing unbeatable service.
Out of our hands however is the pandemic, while concerns for the full economic impact of COVID-19 remain as well as the threat of potential further lockdowns to come, we have decided to defer all standard rent increases pending market review in February 2021 with a view to keeping current tenants in situ and settled where possible. Most aspects of our processes have been able to be reinstated now, albeit adapted to meet new guidance, with the exception of regular property inspections which we hope to return to in phase 4. We aim to start inspecting properties that have been occupied throughout the lockdown and so have been unobserved longest, before working out to the rest of the portfolio. We expect a curb on the number of inspections any of our colleagues will be allowed to undertake in a set time, which reducing our portfolio numbers should help us do to the best of our ability.
Lastly, we wish you and your families all the best at this time. If you have any immediate queries or concerns regarding our business & market update, please don’t hesitate to contact our Head of Property Management, Dawn Pianosi, on firstname.lastname@example.org