The Fee Ban brings with it massive opportunity for you and your business. Why not spend the next 13 weeks thinking about how you can make the most of this and be READY!

Opportunity 1 – Improve efficiency

Most agents at this point are starting to think not only about increasing their revenue streams, but about where costs can be managed. When thinking about your spending, don’t just think about the physical pounds and pence something is costing you, think about the man hours too.

Think about the activities that take up the most of your time, and if you could introduce time-saving technologies to free up your time for what really matters – meeting landlords, finding tenants and giving that service that sets you apart.

For example, do you print applications forms or complete them for applicants? There is no need! Just send your tenants a Rentshield Direct link and the rest is taken care of. Do you spend time storing right-to-rent documentation? Rentshield Verify does that for you.

There’s also technology out there that will improve efficiencies with inventories, viewings, repairs, and a whole host of other things. You may put off implementing some of these things because of costs getting set up, but they could well save you a fortune in man hours.

Opportunity 2 – Improve your service offering

Even if you’re not planning on increasing your landlord fees, a lot of agents in your area will be. Competition will be tough as landlords start looking for the best deal AND the best service. You can aim to be the cheapest in your area, or you can be the best. This is the time to start thinking about what extra services you can provide to landlords as part of your managed service – rent guarantee, right-to-rent checks, rent collection, and insurance are all great places to start.

If you are planning on charging more to your landlords, you should think about DOING more to justify this, and stop your valued customers from joining those that will be shopping around.

Opportunity 3 – Show your value

How much do you do for your landlords and tenants that they aren’t even aware of? Landlords use a letting agent not only to lighten their load, but also for your expertise. It’s time to start shouting about what it is that you do. Consider putting together a fact sheet of what your service includes – this will allow the opportunity to start charging for some of the things you’ve traditionally done for free, but will also get those landlords who are planning to go it alone thinking – can they really make do without you?

Opportunity 4 – Be innovative!

Smart and efficient marketing is vital for any business to succeed. Have you thought about new ways that you can reach your customers? Been meaning to try your hand at sponsored social media? Why not use this time of change as an opportunity to try it? Facebook allows you to set a budget that suits you and build audiences that meet your criteria. On LinkedIn you can send messages straight to the inbox of potential landlords. On Instagram you can tag your location so people interested in your area can find you. You can trial all of this either for free or for very little cost, why not?

We understand as much as anyone that the coming months could be unsettling for those in the lettings industry, but we’re here to help you prepare for and manage the changes that are coming. Keep an eye out for further guidance as we countdown to the ban.

The countdown to the ban…4 opportunities not to be missed

The rise of the private rental market over the last few years has been clear for all to see as the numbers of tenants, rental properties, landlords and letting agents continue to rise.

This shift towards renting has admittedly brought its own problems for agents and landlords. Increased government scrutiny has led to a more regulated sector with more legal compliance obligations for those letting property than ever before.

However, a more professional sector has its own merits and the overall intention to rid the industry of a minority of rogue landlords and agents remains worthwhile.

The signs for the rental market in 2019 are positive, with demand for housing from private tenants expected to remain high and rental growth expected to be steady.

But what can we learn from the past to help inform us in the future? The government has recently published its annual English Housing Survey (EHS) for the period covering 2017-18.

Here’s a rundown of all the key points letting agents need to know:

Proportion of owners and renters remains steady

The EHS revealed that in 2017-18, 14.8 million (64%) of the estimated 23.2 million total English households were owner occupiers. When it comes to private rentals, meanwhile, there were some 4.5 million households (19%).

The private rental sector (PRS) has hovered around the 19/20% of households mark since 2013-14 but has doubled in size since 2002. During the 1980s and 1990s, the proportion of households in the PRS was steady at around 10%.

PRS demographics continue to change

The makeup of the PRS has been evolving rapidly in recent years, with more families and older renters entering the sector. This is due to a combination of factors including rising housing standards, house buying affordability issues and appreciation of the flexibility renting offers.

According to the latest EHS, the number of 35-44-year-olds privately renting more than doubled from 13% in 2007-08 to 28% a decade later.

What’s more, during the same period approximately 795,000 households with dependent children entered the PRS.

For many years renting has been seen as the preserve of younger generations saving for their first home, but this now seems to be changing.

That said, the under-35s continue to dominate the sector with 28% of households in this age bracket privately renting in 2017-18, up from 13% ten years previously.

The rental market dominates in London

For a few years now, the PRS has represented the largest housing tenure in the capital and the EHS reveals that in 2017-18 it accounted for 28% of households (up from 19% in 2007-08).

The proportion of owner occupiers has been declining over the same period, with just 27% of households recognised as mortgagors, down from 34% a decade ago.

Outside of the capital, the PRS now represents 18% of all households, up from 10% in 2007-08. The number of owner occupiers outside of London has also fallen, although not to such a low level (30% in 2017-18, down from 38% in 2007-08).

Is there a need for mandatory longer tenancies?

The government’s plans to introduce mandatory three-year minimum tenancies as standard have been well-documented. However, the EHS raises the question as to whether it’s a necessary measure.

The survey shows that the average length of a residency in the PRS was 4.1 years in 2017-18.

It also reveals that some 49% of tenants have lived in the PRS for less than five years, while 25% have been renting for between five and nine years and 26% have been residing in the private sector for over a decade.

The rental market is the busiest

The greatest number of household moves within, into or out of a sector in 2017-18 was recorded in the PRS, demonstrating why the market is so fast-moving.

In total, some 860,000 households moved from one private rental property to another and 219,000 new households were created.

There were 153,000 moves into the PRS, made up predominantly by owner occupiers (64%) while the vast majority (76%) of the 273,000 tenant households who moved out of the rental market bought their own property and became owner occupiers.

Other key findings
  • 6% of private rental households (261,000) were deemed overcrowded
  • the PRS recorded the highest proportion of ‘non-decent homes’ at 25%
  • some 85% of PRS homes had a central heating system, the lowest of all tenures
  • 9% of private rental homes had an electricity smart meter, compared to 17% in social rented homes
  • 89% of private renters had at least one working smoking alarm
  • 30% of tenants reported that they had never tested their smoke alarm, higher than both owner occupiers and social renters
  • 40% of private rented sector dwellings with a solid fuel appliance had a carbon monoxide alarm
  • 76% of renters paid a deposit when they moved into their current accommodation
  • around 73% of deposits were registered with a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme
  • some 20% of tenants said they didn’t know if their deposit was protected

As always, the EHS makes for a very interesting read – you can view the headline report in full here.

It’s clear from the report that the PRS remains stable and continues to house more people from ranging demographics.

There are numerous challenges for letting agents to face this year, not least the tenant fees ban and Brexit uncertainty, but there are still plenty of positives to take from the long-term growth of the sector.

English Housing Survey review – rental sector continues to boom

The Rentshield Rental Index provides you with a monthly update on rental figures and statistics throughout the UK.

Key headlines from the January Rental Index

  • Rents in the UK rose by 2.5% in January compared to the same month a year ago; the average monthly rent now stands at £932 a month
  • Rents in London increased by 3.7% in January this year compared to January 2018; the average monthly rent in the capital now stands at £1,588
  • When London is excluded, the average UK rental value was £775 in January 2019, this is up 2.0% on last year
  • Rentshield’s January Rental Index reveals that rents rose in 11 of the 12 regions of the UK

Read the full Rental Index

The January 2019 Rental Index