The private rented sector (PRS) continues to grow apace and this expansion seems to be showing no sign of slowing down.
While this is great news for letting agents, it does present some challenges as well as opportunities. It would be safe to say the industry does not get the most positive press coverage, with the bad practices of a rogue minority often making headlines. There is also the looming spectre of regulation, with calls for greater intervention from the government still commonplace.
The key to letting agents overcoming these obstacles is to provide tenants with the best service possible, but what exactly do renters want from their agency? We take a look below.
Transparency is key
A UK Tenant Survey 2014, which asked tenants what they look for from letting agents revealed that the number one factor was transparency, which was highlighted by 54 per cent of respondents. In second was competitive fees, which was cited by 42 per cent of tenants.
This is not surprising, as the subject of letting agent fees has proved controversial for some time now. The best thing agencies can do to tackle this problem is to be as clear as possible about the fees they charge, providing all information upfront and explaining why the charges are necessary if needs be.
Other desirable qualities highlighted in the survey were agents responding quickly to any queries (37 per cent) and being easily contactable by email or phone (32 per cent).
This is not the first research to pick up on this, as Letting Agent Today recently reported on a poll by Saga Insurance, which found 32 per cent of tenants thought their letting agent or landlord was hard to get hold off. It is clear then, that agencies need to improve on communication if they are to provide the best service possible. Indeed, 14 per cent of tenants in the recent survey highlighted good communication skills as something they would look for in an agent.
What else do renters want? Some 30 per cent of respondents claimed an agent should be a member of a registered body such as ARLA, while 27 per cent said they need to have good knowledge of rental properties.
Just over one in ten (13 per cent) renters revealed they would like to see agencies have longer opening hours and be open at weekends. The same number said agents need to have good knowledge of the local area.
Tenants where also asked what they want from property management agencies. The results were broadly similar, but with a few differences. For instance, 43 per cent highlighted a straight-forward and honest approach as important, while 39 per cent cited the use of reliable contractors as desirable.
More than a third said property management firms should ensure the cleanliness of communal areas, while 29 per cent wanted to see them provide support to tenants.
The results of this survey are invaluable for any letting or property management agency that wants to stand out from the crowd by providing an excellent service for its renters. It provides a clear demonstration of what tenants want and, in most cases, these are things that can easily be delivered.
Indeed, if agents strive to meet these needs, this will go a long way to reducing the level of negative press surrounding the industry, which may turn down the heat on calls for increased regulation of the sector. Those agencies that provide tenants with what they want will soon gain an advantage on their competitors, and will be in prime position to take full advantage of the booming PRS.