Rochelle Trup, Finance Director at Arthur, discusses how technology is changing the relationship between tenants and social housing property managers.
Technology is changing our lives in so many ways, from how we communicate with one another to the way we watch TV and read. Without most of us realising, it is shaping the way we do things and its influence will only increase over time.
Recent figures show that we are using smartphones for social media and search, with total browse time per month averaging of 66 hours, while desktops account for just 29 hours via desktops. (Source: ComScore Mobile Metrix, 2017).
Smartphones have become a must-have device for consumers across all socio demographic groups and currently about 71% of UK consumer phone users have a smartphone, according to Kantar’s data and 84% of phones sold are ranked as ‘smart’. Smartphones are here to stay and have the potential for not only improving the communications between the property manager, tenant and contractor, but also improving tenant satisfaction.
So the big question is what impact has technology had on the relationship between tenants and social housing property managers and how should we be respond to these changes?
Over the last few years, there has been a large number of web-based applications launched to manage everything from contact forms to live chats, listed available properties, tenant screening and applications. Property management software has evolved and now can make background tenant reports instantaneous for property managers.
Automated actions can be set for almost everything, from sending a tenant a late rent notice, to a reminder that a gas safety certificate is about to run out. Tenants can raise and track all issues, giving them the comfort and transparency they may not have experienced before in previous accommodation. This reassures tenants and improves their relationship with the property manager and social housing provider.
Technology gives property managers an unprecedented level of control, can reduce management time, improve efficiency with round-the-clock access to emails and documents. A good property management system produces accurate reports and functions that will avoid any double entry error and can help the property manager organise the financials. It can remind the tenant when the rent is due, so the property managers are not responsible for this, making it easier for both involved.
Property managers can be more ‘hands off’, while at the same time as being more involved, thanks to technology. The majority of property managers do not want to be constantly contacted by their tenant and most tenants do not want to be frequently contacted by their property manager.
There is a suite of smartphone apps available that give tenants access to documentation, along with other important information about the property. Tenants can easily access documents, without having to look through paperwork, or potentially loosing important documents.
Tenants can also take a photo on their phone and attach this to a message that informs the property manager of any issues with their home. The tenant can then track the progress of the property manager and see when the issue is resolved. This speeds up communications and is more efficient, giving peace of mind for the tenants. It can also help prevent disputes, as all parties have a log of all the information relating to the issue.
The good news is that professional property managers are empowering tenants in a very positive way, through technology. Tenant retention and tenant sanity will translate itself into a calmer management environment.
Arthur Online is a property management software designed to help property managers put their property portfolio in order, no matter what size. For more information and details of a 30 day free trial, visit: www.arthuronline.co.uk.