Social distancing in the UK may be helping prevent further spread of the virus, but it’s creating new problems within the property sector. Landlords are facing unfamiliar challenges as face-to-face visits and inspections become prohibited. Pre-tenancy processes have also been affected with difficulties arising surrounding right to rent checks. Acknowledging that housing professionals have taken a significant hit to their common practises, the government has recently amended legislation.
From the 30th March, the government announced that rules for the right to rent checks would be relaxed. The Home Office will accept scanned documents and allow for checks to be performed across video calls. This digital approach will ensure that all renters hold legal immigration status.
Digital Trends in the Property Sector
Making Tax Digital (MTD)
This is yet another step in the growing trend of letting practises becoming digital. Last year, the government pushed forward with its initiative to bring tax filing online. Making Tax Digital (MTD) required all VAT-registered businesses above the taxable threshold to keep digital records. The move also stated that VAT returns would need to be submitted through HMRC approved software. MTD was brought about to increase the accuracy of reporting and to make filing taxes easier.
There has been a noticeable surge in popularity towards online advertisements. Property websites have come to replace newspaper listings as the new norm. In the last two decades, property websites have revolutionised the way tenants seek out homes. The change to digital has made advertising quicker and easier for landlords to fill vacancies. From first discovering a property to signing a lease, tenants can access a wealth of information to help guide their decision. Landlords can also use property portals to find out the reputability of the letting agents and property managers. By following vacancies, they can see how quickly properties get filled to determine the success of their advertising.
Review sites have grown to become a trusted form of business reputability. Google business pages come with a review feature which can help identify untrustworthy agencies and provide feedback on their customer service. Similarly, Trustpilot is a well-known review site which allows past landlords to share their experiences.
Advances in filming have led to the development of ‘virtual viewings’. Specialised equipment can create a 3D image of a property that lets prospective tenants ‘walkthrough’ buildings online. The 360 perspective this technology brings is done by placing a series of sensors around a property to create a 3D model. This tool can be combined with virtual reality (VR) headsets to provide an even more realistic experience.
Drone usage has also appeared as an innovative way to capture great pictures of properties. By flying the device around the building, it can take breath-taking photos and videos at a relatively low cost. It has also been proved useful to valuers and surveyors, who can use drones to analyse a building more thoroughly. It presents them with photos or videos of areas of the property that are typically hard to reach, making conclusions more precise.
Property Management Software
Lastly, the adoption of digital methods has brought about property management software. These systems enhance processes by streamlining them and compiling information for easy viewing. Decorus for Sage is a popular option among property managers; offering several features to assist agencies. It translates Sage information into an all-in-one format, making it easier to track properties. The property management system also comes with a marketing suite for quick ad uploads, credit control features and bulk invoicing. Mass distribution of various documents has proved to be a great time-saving solution for residential and commercial property managers. Automated emails also take the weight off landlords and agents managing multiple properties. By setting custom dates, property management software can track significant dates and schedule correspondence accordingly.