WORK FROM HOME!?
The current rapidly evolving climate of Coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions has focussed all of our minds on the possibility that we may be required to work from home.
Nationwide, the economic effect of the virus will hit millions of people. Those on low incomes, zero hours contracts or working for small businesses who are squeezed by the situation will be hit hardest. For those renting, any loss of income will put pressure on their ability to pay their biggest monthly outgoing. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has urged members to act sympathetically and consider rent payment holidays similar to those being offered by the banks to mortgage holders.
In a joint statement, the RLA and the National Landlords Association (NLA) said:“We are encouraging all landlords to work positively with tenants to provide support where needed throughout this difficult period. Landlords should be as flexible as they can to help tenants facing payment difficulties resulting from the impact of the coronavirus.” (LandlordToday.co.uk). Indeed, the government announced that it will bring forward emergency legislation to protect private renters from eviction.
As a longer term effect, Covid-19 will act as a powerful disruptor and will accelerate the current trends towards remote and home working. Proptech will flourish as an essential rather than preferential aid to business. Several property industry insiders are advocating a move to act now to get ahead of the pack and protect business revenue.
“Government is predicting that COVID-19 will impact us for months so agencies need to plan for the long term and think carefully about business continuity.”
Mark Hayward and David Cox, chief executives of the NAEA and ARLA,
Similarly, Propertymark has prepared a checklist for letting agents which recommends a backup plan for making payments to suppliers, landlords and HMRC to ensure business continuity.
This is where Proptech such as LettsPay, a market leading rent collection platform, can help agents to navigate the forthcoming uncertainties.
Garrett Foxon, founder of LettsPay, points out, “Here at LettsPay, we can help agents in a multitude of ways. Our solution is cloud based so agents and their staff can access it from home. We offer:-
• Rent communication to your tenants,
• Flexibility in your tenants’ rent payments to help them through this time.
• Clear visuals so you can see exactly which tenant has paid and how much.
• The ability to give tenants longer to pay.
In addition, to support you through this time we are offering LettsPay free-of-charge for the first 3 months.”
Aside from the current crisis, nearly a quarter of Britain’s workforce now work flexibly across different locations (This is Money by Lloyds Bank) highlighting the growing trend.
The movement is fuelled by a vast combination of factors but a common benefit that is cited is an improved work-life balance. Happier employees potentially work harder and are more productive. A more attractive work role with staff able to work remotely from further away, means a bigger talent pool of candidates.
The Guardian reports that companies forced to work remotely by the Covid-19 crisis could find their workforce would choose to permanently shift their working patterns once the closures are lifted. The LettsPay system is ideally suited to both office and home based working so smoothly straddles the current disruption and prepares letting agents for an evolution of their practices.
“Now more than ever, it’s essential for good agents to be open to change and take on board new and effective tools to help them attract new business.” Simon Shinerock Owner of Choices Estate Agents
Responsible and forward thinking agents can act now and choose cutting edge proptech such as LettsPay to support current business challenges and protect their revenue stream but also to forge ahead. LettsPay’s flexibility allows agents and landlords to agree revised payment terms (accommodating payment holidays) and adjust these for the tenants which can then be collected accordingly.
While some may be tempted to shut up shop and bludgeon their way through the next 12 weeks as best they can, embracing technology to support agents through this uncertain time and help them get back on track faster is the proactive thing to do.