By Donovan Frew, Chief Technology Officer, Goodlord
There’s been no shortage of chatter about the rental and property sector in the last few months and for good reason. With changes to legislation and continually climbing rent prices, the 30 million Britain’s who rent their homes, the landlords that own them, and the agents who manage them, have all been thrown into a time of turmoil.
With the Renters Reform Bill, Scotland’s ‘rent freeze’, stock shortages, and a host of other issues besetting the industry, there’s never been a more pressing need for technological innovation to help stakeholders respond to the rapidly evolving landscape.
But until recently, the UK’s residential rental sector was awash with application forms, legislation, reference requirements, insurance liabilities and contracts. The entire industry has been built on outdated, manual and paper-based processes.
The land digital transformation forgot
While the property sector is now well known for its “PropTech”, the rental industry has been left behind.
A recent survey from Goodlord revealed that three quarters of agents (74%) agreed that the lettings industry has fallen behind other sectors in its use of technology. 60% of tenants also agreed that letting agents need new technology if they are ever going to offer a better customer service.
So, why has the rental sector been forgotten
There is a perception (wrongly, in my view) that the lettings market plays second fiddle to sales and property ownership. And yet, the sheer size of the industry shows this simply isn’t the case.
With an estimated 10 million residential properties in the UK available to rent, the overall size of the UK’s lettings market is breathtaking, and as such it deserves innovation equivalent to the likes of the financial sector (FinTech), marketing (MarTech) and even human resources (HRTech).
The RentTech revolution
Thankfully, RentTech platforms like Goodlords now exist to save the rental industry from drowning under a mountain of paper.
With the advancement of RentTech, the rental sector is beginning to experience the kind of digital transformation that has been experienced elsewhere, with digitised services that help agents, tenants, and property owners alike.
For tenants, the biggest change is that all the processes involved in renting a property can be done online via a single, easy-to-use platform. Everything from submitting references, checking bank details, and signing tenancy agreements can be achieved instantly without having to wait for emails or the post.
Innovative rental platforms can also help when it comes to moving in, helping tenants to set up utilities such as broadband and TV so that everything is ready and working as soon as they open the door to their new home.
Even after moving into the property, technology can improve the renting experience.
Keeping track of the shared bills has always been a problem for those that house share, but today there are apps that simplify or even completely eliminate the headache. With technology available to provide automatic rent payment reminders and reallocate or refund overpayments. No missed or overpayments and no human intervention — a renters’ dream.
Best of all, all of this is achieved using bank-grade security protocols.
Avoiding an administrative headache for agents and landlords
One of the biggest benefits of a RentTech solution is that it helps to eliminate the time-consuming paperwork associated with managing properties.
By speeding up the pre-tenancy process, turnaround time between tenants moving out and new tenants moving in is reduced helping to avoid costly and unwanted void periods. A plus for both landlords and agents alike, especially considering the current cost-of-living crisis.
In fact, ditching manual processes and embracing a unified digital platform can remove on average three hours in administrative time for each property that’s successfully let. When you scale this up — spreading it over a year, among a team of agents, for example — you can begin to understand the dramatic impact RentTech can have in terms of operational performance.
In other words, not only does RentTech help to smooth the lettings process for all involved, it also provides the foundation for improved productivity that can have a positive effect on agency margins and profitability.
It’s clear, the lettings industry is crying out for technological innovation.
With the squeeze on the residential market pushing up rental incomes at a time when consumer confidence is starting to dip, the sector is likely to experience even more pressure. RentTech solutions can’t alter the basic economic principles of supply and demand. But they can make the process of bringing together tenants, landlords and letting agents much faster, simpler, and more cost effective
Donovan Frew is the Chief Technology Officer at Goodlord, the biggest player in the UK’s rental technology (RenTech) market. The business is solely focused on the lettings industry with its technology currently installed at one in five (20%) lettings agents in the UK, giving it unprecedented data and insights into deals, rent prices, and other market trends.
To date, Goodlord is the only dedicated technology platform committed to improving the rental experience with an all-in-one solution bringing landlord services, agency management tools, and tenant services under one roof.