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The Lettings Specialists, Surrey and Sussex

Expert Property Advice

Powering through the Pandemic

I am often asked ‘How did we fare during the Pandemic?’ and ‘How did we prepare?’.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has been a dreadful experience for us all, we have all suffered in one way or another and thankfully, it seems we are now coming out the other side of this terrible time.

How did we prepare?

Well, In February and March of 2020 we observed the rise of Coronavirus across Europe and the worrisome News being reported in the daily media. So, we invested in the required technology, software, systems and Video Tours for our properties to enable continuous remote operation. This ensured uninterrupted service to our landlords and tenants during the various Lockdowns where we all worked remotely.  Furthermore, we made sure that all of our clients were aware of the additional risk brought by the Pandemic and we re-offered our Rent Guarantee to any Landlord that didn’t then have that cover. Thankfully dozens of our landlords took us up on the offer, which proved to be a very smart move because, a few months later the premiums tripled in cost!

Once we were allowed to conduct in-person viewings again, we acquired the necessary PPE and created COVID Secure Working Protocols to safeguard our team, landlords, tenants and the general public. Before any in person viewings were agreed, we ensured the viewers had watched our Video Tour and we issued all parties with our Protocol for that meeting to ensure we all kept safe and observed COVID guidelines.

 

How did we fare?

In January 2021 Citizens Advice reported that half a million renters were in arrears, they also found: “For the majority struggling with their rent, this is a new challenge – 58% of those behind on rent had no rent arrears in February 2020. For people already struggling with rent before the pandemic hit, their arrears have got worse for 40% of them. On average, people who have fallen behind on rent now owe £730, which would mean around £360 million is owed across the country.”

These are staggering numbers. To put this into context; this translates to over 11% of all Private Tenants being in arrears.

So, it stands to reason that if Knights were producing average results, then we too would have over 11% of our tenants in arrears. Well, we are accustomed to producing industry defying results; we experienced less than 3.5% of arrears across our portfolio. This is a result 3 times better than the national average.

Tenant screening has always been central to our service and our success, we have always felt that we are levels ahead of anyone else in this regard and these statistics prove that.

To compound the point further; at the time of writing this article, normal service has resumed and we have ZERO arrears across our entire portfolio. We continued to support and guide our Landlords and Tenants and the less than 3.5% that were in arrears have all now paid off their debts, without any need for eviction or action.

As the Pandemic stress-tested tenancies and the service, guidance and support being provided by letting agents, we observed a rise in landlords seeking out better advice and support and as a result, our operation continued to grow. But it certainly hasn’t been easy, it has been the toughest time in our career and it has kept us all on our toes.

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Ross is Director of Knights Estate Agents and has a wealth of industry knowledge.

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