Well the last couple of months have certainly been an ever-evolving situation. As letting agents, who already predominantly work remotely, only some minor adjustments were needed initially. These adjustments focused on how to manage the face-to-face meetings of viewings, check-ins and check-outs, as virtually everything else we did was done from home.
The other major aspect that we had to consider was the safety of our tenants, our staff and any potentially new tenant moving into one of our properties.
With regards to the face-to-face meetings we would normally carry out, we had to think about how these could still tick all the boxes we needed them to, whilst limiting the need to physically be there. With viewings, the natural step was to offer virtual viewings online. These were offered as a video that we may have already had in stock or as a live viewing, via video call. Of the three face-to-face meetings mentioned above, this was probably the easiest one to adapt to, although we also acknowledge that it would not quite be as good as being able to view the property in person.
Check-outs were perhaps the next face-to-face meeting that we could offer an initial solution to, as we asked tenants who were due to leave, to call us via video, so that we could do the check out and inspect the room over the phone. Unfortunately, we quickly realised that this was not going to work as well as we’d like! Since then, we have informed tenants that at least three days will be left between them leaving and us inspecting the room. We give instructions on where to leave their key and once we have checked the room 72 hours later, we can contact them regarding the return of their deposit.
The last of the three face-to-face meetings is the check-in. This posed the most difficulty, as whilst much of the information we tell tenants on moving into one of our properties can be done over the phone or through an email, it is the handing over of the key which gave us cause for concern. Social distancing, together with PPE provided, meant that we restricted – and continue to restrict – our need to be close to the new tenant, and the lettings team staff only enter the property if absolutely necessary.
As we move forward, these new practices that we have adopted, form our new way of working and offer enough flexibility, that moving between what was normal before and what is normal now, means we continue with minimal disruption to our day-to-day service.
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