Is Modern Tenant Behavior Changing Property Management?

There are many facets to being a successful property manager. However, there is no escaping the fact that the ability to keep tenants happy is the central ingredient in the recipe for success. After all, failure to do this will result in a higher tenancy turnover rate, more complaints from your tenants, increased admin time and a strained relationship with your property owner. Therefore, it’s imperative for all property managers to understand what tenants want. In a world where the level of competition is greater than ever, getting this wrong simply isn’t an option.

So, is the landscape changing? In a word, yes. But the ways it is changing might not be obvious. The landscape of the property market has changed dramatically in recent years thanks to rising property prices and a host of other factors. While the number of middle-aged tenants has more than doubled since 2006-07, it is also widely reported that millennials are at threat of being forced to rent for longer than any previous generation. This creates fantastic opportunities for property managers but also means that tenants have a bigger voice that can influence practices like never before.

As the world becomes increasingly focused on technology, consumer expectations are evolving across virtually all aspects of modern life. The process of finding and renting a home is no different. Tenants are people that have developed new ways of interacting with businesses and have seen their priorities throughout those communications shaken up in recent times. Investing in technology to meet those changing expectations is a growing responsibility for the modern property manager. Before considering the future implementations, though, you must first gain a clear insight into the changing habits of modern tenants.

Thinking like a tenant is the only way to discover the formula for success. Ultimately, placing a greater importance on technology will be essential, and respecting the demands of prospective tenants should enable you to make calculated decisions on which tech elements to include.

Whether using an assured shorthold tenancy agreement or another form of agreement, there’s a lot of issues for tenants to consider. Aside from the agreement and relevant checks, they’ll want to feel that the property manager can quickly respond to any issues they’re facing once they’ve moved in. This is one area where property managers cannot afford to fall victim to outdated technologies that are prevalent in property management today. 

Responding to urgent requests via traditional mail and late phone calls simply won’t do.  Consumers are accustomed to instant communication, which is why a growing number of property managers have begun to incorporate WhatsApp interactions and instant messaging across websites and social media. This can extend to AI-powered chatbots, which are set to take up 85% of client interactions across all industries by 2020. 

Once such property management company is Level Up property management. One of their managers, Dan Robinson, told me that, “the biggest shortfall in property management is the lack of good communication between managing agents and tenants.” He feels that property managers should be able to communicate through the residents’ preferred method of communication, whether that be telephone, email or any social media platform. “We encourage our tenants to send us photos directly through any social media or instant messaging format,” he said. He also emphasized that although every tenant is different it was still pivotal not underestimate the importance of face to face communication

Statistics for the financial year 2017 showed that 62% of households in private rentals had been in their current accommodation for under three years while just 4% had been in their home for over 20 years. The figures for 2019 are expected to be very similar, and underlines that tenants won’t settle for inadequate property management. One of the most evident issues is that they are impatient.

Tenants won’t accept slow responses that leave them living in unsatisfactory conditions that either compromises their health or does not meet the standards set out in the agreement. Keeping a tenant is a lot easier than finding new ones while the repercussions, both financially and logistically, of failing to meet legal obligations can be huge and should encourage all property managers to pay greater attention to this part of the process.

Technology can help, and it is shown that 90% of companies have resolved complaints in a faster time thanks to the use of chatbots. Better still, facilities that remember previous interactions can make the processes even smoother. Meanwhile, creating instant links between tenant and property manager for those emergency situations should be high on the agenda.

Depending on the region, average monthly rental costs for UK tenants can fall anywhere between £500 and £1,694. Even when you exclude the excessive costs of Greater London, property managers must show an appreciation of how those costs can impact a tenant’s mindset. Of course, in some instances, a service charge is applicable and tenants will want to know what their hard-earned cash is being spent on. 

Transparency counts for a lot in the mind of a prospective tenant, particularly for first-time tenants that are riddled with uncertainty and the fear of encountering unexpected fees. Specialized software that provides a template for full and comprehensive price breakdowns should provide tenants with the transparency that they need—don’t forget to detail your costs too.

Over £50bn is paid on UK rentals in the modern age, and the figure edges closer to the total fee paid on mortgages with each passing year. As such, tenants naturally crave a better quality of life – not least because they are expected to rent until later in life. Providing a community atmosphere in which they feel valued is somewhat of a new challenge for property managers, but should not be ignored. This is especially palpable in HMOs (houses of multiple occupancy) and multi-unit properties that include shared communal spaces.

Maintaining regular communication to update tenants on developments with the property as well as life in the area can add an extra sense of value. Personalising emails through automated software is easy. When added to arranging community events, particularly for those living in apartments and other multi-unit properties, satisfaction levels will soar.

So what is the verdict? 

Tenants have changed the landscape of property rentals, but the bulk of those changes are related to the speed and method of communication influenced by the technology available today. With a growing number of ‘younger renters’ having to rent for longer before purchasing their first home, those involved in rental at all stages (not just property management) need to re-evaluate their processes and communication methods to really connect with this audience. 

The shift we’re seeing in the need for ‘community’ is very much reflected across other sectors in which ‘millenials’ have influenced such as employment in general. In the same way that it is no longer enough to just provide a great salary and 2 weeks holiday a year, it’s no longer satisfactory to manage a block without instilling a proactively maintained community. 

Property managers who embrace these changes in behavior are better placed to maintain a harmonious property and better fulfill the needs of both the tenants and property owners. 

Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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