Trust inventory’s own Ben Shaw was invited recently to participate on a discussion panel titled: Levelling Up & Property Reports – What Does the Future Hold for Service Providers?
Ben has 6 years of Estate Agency Experience, has bought and sold properties in Oxfordshire for his own portfolio of investments since 2012 so he is familiar with all the ins and outs of the industry and we were all excited to join the live discussion and hear his thoughts!
The panel discussion webinar was organised by Inventory base academy who created the most advanced Property Inventory & inspection Software App on the market. Here at Trust inventory, we’ve been using their services from the very beginning, it has now been 10 years!
- Ben Shaw representing Trust Inventory
- Amy Joyce of AJPS
- Mark Lazarus is Director of Storm Inventories
- Melissa Guthrie-Noyce is Director of MGN Inventories
- Charlie Saunders is representing Assist Inventories
- Sián Hemming-Metcalfe representing Inventory Base Academy
Below is a quick summary of the discussion where the panellists shared their thoughts, top tips and offered their expert views on the future of the reporting industry.
The webinar focused on 3 key subjects, let’s go in further detail:
Sustainability in the lettings sector – the panellists explored the impacts of the challenge to meet EPC grade C on the lettings industry, what this will do to housing stock, will landlords comply and make the improvements or leave the sector and will that impact our services?
The discussion started with all the panellists agreeing that landlords complying to make the improvements dependent on what type of landlord they were. Intentional or accidental? Intentional landlords would be more prepared to make these changes whereas accidental landlords won’t, perhaps they don’t understand the benefits of a better epc rating.
Ben added that “From an estate agent point of view, we might see a reduction in landlords for a period of time, that would involve people then selling those properties because they won’t be able to afford to make the changes or they don’t see it as valuable. Alternatively there are experienced portfolio landlords who might pick up those properties willing to spend that additional money because they know it will be worth it”
To which Mark agreed and also added: “It’s not easy to renovate and make the changes because cost of materials are going up, we could tell a landlord XYZ is wrong with the property, you should fix this and that but they don’t want to know, they’d rather not spend more than they need to.”
Emily also pointed out:
“Some properties are too old, it would be criminal to change them into a new build to meet the EPC requirement due to the history, and for some historic properties it’s almost impossible”.
Effects of the levelling up white paper – the repeal of Section 21 and what that means for the service industry, will landlords require even more evidence from inventory reports because of the need to justify the termination of the tenancy?
Midterm inventories are crucial, a lot of people don’t use them, it’s an expense they don’t need. Gives a snapshot of the property and how its being treated. It’s an impartial view, clerks are sent to find the facts, not there to judge, tenants feel more relaxed to talk to clerks and this builds rapport.
Ben was asked if as a portfolio manager, the repeal of S21 would worry him, he replied “No, i’m not looking to sell, i’m quite happy for my tenants to stay as long as they pay the rent. There are lots of litigation for tenants who don’t pay their rent, e.g. s8 and I have insurance for non-payment of rent.”
Contracts and Service Level Agreements (SLA) – are they a realistic option or do clerks just need to act like a service business to affect change? Are they blocking our growth as a reporting industry or is it more that we, as providers, need to instil more confidence in our services by acting more like a business and be less apologetic when it comes to reporting prices?
Mark discussed how the sla is more to do with how inventory companies perform, speed and consistency of availability. He went on to question the validity of SLAs if they were put in place. That it may be invalid, e.g. going to properties and unable to get access because of whatever reason, there’s SLA on both sides. We have terms and conditions. This is how we do things, sign the terms.
The main issue that was pointed out during this discussion was invoices being paid late, would SLA help with that?
Mark highlighted that inventory companies constantly need to chase payments but if an SLA was introduced it may affect the client relationship because the intention is not to sue your client but that’s what it may come across as for late payment. He added that perhaps late payment was better than losing a client.
Sian then expressed that Inventory Clerks aren’t treated as important.:
“Usually the landlord and agents come first then us. Is this because of how inventory clerks are seen in the industry? Are we devaluing ourselves because it’s easy to become an inventory clerk? I.e no qualifications as such required. Perhaps an SLA wouldn’t be effective because of the hierarchy?
Ben concluded that from the beginning of the relationship the terms and process needs to be discussed. However with bigger corporations payments get lost and most of the time estate agents can’t authorise payments themselves because there are different departments. “Having an SLA makes us seem more professional and taken seriously in terms of payment.”
A lot of beneficial points were made during the discussion, the panellists gave their top tips and came together to generate solutions for ongoing issues within the reporting industry. The webinar was incredibly informative and we thank the Inventory Base team for holding it. We also thank Ben for doing a great job representing trust inventory.
If you’d like to listen to the actual podcast, click the link below: