1st May 2020
I’m typing this blog on day 38 of home working following the governments advised lockdown. Even writing about this still seems very surreal, however the situation has shown me that even a global pandemic and enforced lockdown does not stop the rentals market. The main reason I have remained working in the rentals sector over the years is because it never fails to be fast paced, dynamic, challenging and robust. I do not see this changing any time soon.
Having never worked from home I’ll honestly say that I was not relishing the prospect. I am a people person and love being around others when I work. Our team are like a little family to me and I miss the day to day interaction as well as the endless streams of advice and knowledge that I pick up from the little chats that I have with colleagues when dropping off their morning coffee. However, with some adjustments made I am starting to see some benefits to home working and I am very pleased that we have been able to maintain our high standard of customer care throughout this lockdown from our homes. Our investment in remote working several years ago has served us well. I could potentially rule the world from my living room!
As people will have seen on the news, the property market has essentially paused. As a business we knew that we had to adhere to the government guidelines of lockdown and wanted to lead from the front with this to ensure everyone does stay home, stay well and protect the NHS. As such we halted viewings and have not set up any new tenancies during lockdown. We were very pleased to get our 7 pipeline lettings moved in safely shortly after the lockdown and are now focussed on nurturing our property management until we can get back to “normal” working. We are still receiving a number of enquiries each day for our marketed properties and we have applicants added to our viewing wait list which will kick into action once we return to the office and restrictions have been lifted. I have multiple new instructions waiting to be listed and have no doubt that my first week back in the office after lockdown is going to be one of the busiest of my career – I cannot wait!!
Some tenants have been nervous about keeping their home during this stressful time and I am very pleased to have negotiated close to 40 renewals since lockdown. This has given tenants peace of mind that they can continue living in their home and the landlord security of income for the next 12 months. Whenever there is a time of unrest it is a good idea to stick with what you know and if both tenant and landlord are happy then renewal makes complete sense.
Our maintenance team continue to show their strength and tenacity to “get the job done” and have ensured that any urgent works have been tended to in a secure and safe way for all parties involved. Gas leaks, broken boilers and floods do not stop (even for a global pandemic) but our team have risen to the new challenge and have ensured that our tenants are safe and comfortable and that our landlords have been updated and had the stress handled for them. I must mention our contractors who have been truly fantastic during this time. Responding to urgent situations in a sensitive, methodical and safe way has meant that all of our tenants can remain safe and sound in their homes. It has also ensured that our landlords remain compliant with their obligatory safety work.
I have had many landlords ask me in recent weeks what the future holds for the rentals market. Whilst I have never lived through a global pandemic and certainly have no magic crystal ball at home (I wish I had) I can certainly say that in the 15 years I have worked in rentals it has never let me down. There may be some changes with some tenants not wanting to move this year, however they will renew and their landlord will be happy to keep them I’m sure. New properties that hit the market will have interest from people that pre lockdown may have not been looking to rent but now will due to a change in their life. Lending & mortgages will return to help kickstart the economy so investors should be looking at increasing their portfolio once normal business resumes. I still truly believe that investment in bricks and mortar is still a sensible long-term plan. Our landlords also have the added bonus of owning a property in North Leeds which is a hot spot for professional tenants and tends to buck the trends with demand that you see on the news. The Universities, hospitals, businesses and amenities are all still here, even if some may be a little late back to the party tenants know that they will return and will want to be close by when they do.
I personally cannot wait to get back to work with a renewed and refreshed outlook on business and life in general. I’m looking forward to the buzz of the rentals market and working with colleagues, clients and customers to ensure that we can finish 2020 on a positive note for everyone!