The Leeds branch of estate agency Belvoir explains how it’s coping with the pandemic as the business manages properties, deals with distraught tenants and keeps landlords informed.
The Coronavirus pandemic has hit many industries hard and the rental sector is no exception.
Many DIY landlords are struggling to keep up with fast changing legislation, tenants who have faced overnight changes to their financial circumstances are struggling to pay rent, and there are other less obvious consequences to deal with, such as increasing maintenance issues.
In these unprecedented and difficult times, a reputable property management agent such as Belvoir can help to shoulder the burden for landlords by liaising with tenants, offering expert advice and ensuring legal compliance.
Glenn Broadwell, owner of Belvoir Leeds North West and Leeds South, recently won the title of Belvoir Franchise of the Year 2020, making him very well placed to advise on how the corona virus is affecting the BTL industry in his area.
“Clearly the pandemic and government lock-down means that our offices are closed and we are currently unable to conduct viewings in the normal way, but many Belvoir offices are conducting viewings via a virtual tour or video link,” says Glenn.
“Even though my team is working from home we are still very busy. One somewhat unexpected consequence of the lock-down is that many tenants and their families are in their homes for much longer than usual, and as a result we are seeing a massively increased number of maintenance issues being reported.
“Appliances such as ovens, fridge freezers and washing machines are being used much more, and tenants are reporting any problems that are arising and wanting them to be fixed very quickly, which can prove to be problematic.
“Last week we had a family of seven people living in a property with a broken oven, but we managed to send one of our trusted and professional contractors out, as this was obviously an emergency situation.
“We have put into place stringent guidance for contractors and tenants to ensure that social distancing measures and all health and safety issues are addressed to reduce the risk of infection throughout any maintenance repair visits.
“I do wonder how DIY landlords will be able to cope with all of this, as some contractors are not working until the initial 21 day lock-down is completed next week and the situation is reviewed, whilst others are responding to emergency problems only.
“It is certainly getting more difficult to obtain parts such as new elements for an oven, although where possible we are getting these sent by post so that repairs can be carried out.
“My team is working incredibly hard to try and keep everything running smoothly – we are busier than we’ve ever been with maintenance issues.
“Many of our tenants have been in touch to say their circumstances have changed and they are unable to pay their rent. We try and provide as much as advice and support as possible, and obviously liaise with landlords to keep them fully informed of the situation.
“Some landlords have offered a 50% discount to tenants for the next three months, one offered a free month’s rent to NHS workers, whilst others are anxious because they may have lost their own jobs and be struggling to pay the mortgage so we have advised them about applying for a BTL mortgage holiday.
“We also forward links to all affected tenants with details of government help that is available and can provide an income and expenditure form to help tenants make any cut backs that may ease their financial situation.
“Finally, I don’t think that many DIY landlords are aware of emergency legislation that was announced on 18th March to prevent landlords from evicting tenants in private or social accommodation for at least three months.
“This was rushed through to protect tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to job losses or having to look after their children because of schools closing etc.
“Belvoir offices have the benefit of a dedicated professional support team at Central Office who ensure that all Belvoir agents are completely up to date with new laws and can provide landlords with the correct advice to ensure they remain compliant and to help them manage their portfolios during this difficult time.”