Lettings agents urged to cut back on admin as tenant fees ban looms

May 20, 2019

With less than a month until the Tenant Fees Act becomes law, letting agents are being urged to reduce their staffs’ admin burden to allow them to focus on delivering a good service for landlords and tenants at what is an increasingly difficult time for the buy-to-let sector.

Utility management service, Tenant Shop, said agents should find solutions which save time, automate tasks and simplify processes to ease their workload and maximise profitability.

Letting agents’ workload has risen along with tenant numbers in recent years and has been exacerbated by increased government regulation.

The private rental sector (PRS) has boomed over the last few years; the most recent English Housing Survey (2017-18) showed there are approximately 4.5 million households privately renting, equivalent to 19% of all households – double the number renting in 2002.

Tighter regulation has meant landlords and agents are responsible for carrying out immigration checks on prospective tenants and ensuring all properties meet a minimum energy efficiency standard.

Glenn Seddington, managing director of Tenant Shop, comments: “Feedback from our agents indicates that this influx of tenants over the last two decades has equated to a significant increase in extra work for letting agents in the form of referencing checks, inventories and drafting tenancy agreements.

“As a result, this means more moves in, out and within the PRS, which creates more work for agents when it comes to managing utilities in rental properties and helping landlords to deal with void periods.”

The Tenant Fees Act, set to be introduced on June 1, will ban upfront fees and deposits capped to five weeks’ rent and could also cause a further headache for agents as insiders predict a rush of tenant moves as renters who had delayed moving home in to avoid paying fees “spring into action”.

“A flurry of moves over the summer, when considered in the context of an already inflated tenant population and increased administrative burden, could put even more pressure on an already stretched workforce of letting agents,” Seddington explains.

Seddington concludes: “Difficult market conditions in 2019 mean agents need to use all the available tools that can help to take the pressure of their staff. Solutions which save time, automate tasks and simplify processes are invaluable and can help an agency to deliver the same high levels of service, despite an ever-increasing workload.”