Tenant referencing data, supplied by lettings supplier, Blinc UK, has shown that the rental market has remained strong during the current national lockdown with just a 25% decrease in activity during January and February compared to the same pre-pandemic period in 2020.
The firm says that despite the challenges of operating during a national lockdown, many agents it works with are processing the same volume of tenancies as they were at the beginning of last year.
Darren Bignall, Director of Blinc UK, comments: "Despite the introduction of a national lockdown on January 4, many letting agents hit the ground running in the New Year.
"Tenants' desire to rent has been consistently high since the start of the year, during what can sometimes be a quieter time for the rental market. This led to many agents letting a high number of properties over a short period with a shortage of supply now starting to emerge."
Bignall says that with physical viewings being discouraged as a result of the pandemic, it’s becoming increasingly common for agents to let properties from an initial virtual viewing.
He adds: "Considering the current Covid restrictions, it’s remarkable how many new tenancies have been completed so far this year. The lettings industry has adapted to a new way of working and has performed impressively in the face of the pandemic."
With a high number of transactions to manage, combined with the challenges posed by multiple national lockdowns, agents are increasingly aware of the benefits of agile and efficient software.
In September 2020, Blinc UK acquired a 50% stake in Pink Chilli Software, a pre-tenancy software platform that allows agents to complete the whole move-in process anytime, anywhere, from any device.
Bignall says: "In a busy market with an expectation for quick turnaround times, agents need access to technology which allows them to set-up new tenancies quickly and fits in with a new, more collaborative way of working."
He adds that when transaction levels are high, agents can benefit from a more granular workflow: "Our dashboard has been improved to show each element of the tenancy set-up so that work can be handled by tenancy or by task such as outstanding tenancy agreements or gas safety certificates."
How can letting agents deal with lockdown demands?
With lockdown measures still in place for the foreseeable future, many agencies continue to split their teams between working from home or in the office. At the same time, the risks of Covid-19 means that some team members may be required to self-isolate and work from home for up to two weeks.
Bignall continues: "The current landscape requires agents to operate in a more flexible way, taking into account different working patterns, locations and hours.
He says Pink Chilli is helping agencies to operate effectively under these conditions with its collaborative, bespoke tenancy to-do lists, which allow team members to add tasks, set reminders and ask colleagues to carry out pieces of work.
He concludes: "Having the right software in place, which enables effective team-working despite people working at different times and in different locations, is essential for all letting agencies and particularly those with multiple branches and a high number of monthly move-ins."
"If an agency manages over 20 move-ins per month and it doesn't have the right workflows in place, things can fall apart pretty quickly, causing problems with tenants and landlords."
"Being able to see and comment on all tasks in one place means agencies can keep on top of a growing workload while improving efficiency and productivity."