How are innovative agents using technology to manage compliance?

The relationship between compliance and technology has never been more important in the lettings sector, according to Gas Tag.

Research conducted by Gas Tag has uncovered that the most innovative letting agents are using technology to save time, improve accuracy and proactively identify challenges when it comes to compliance.

Their research with several leading agencies has identified three areas in which these firms are excelling in handling growing compliance pressures.

Automated milestones and notifications will save time

Agents are increasingly benefitting from using technology to automate notifications and milestones so they can ensure landlords are aware of the compliance status of their properties.

Mike Hookway, property management director at London agency Portico, says that setting up reminders allows ‘plenty of time to open discussions with our clients and arrange the necessary visits to satisfy any legislative requirements’.

“The ability to rely on system generated alerts is intrinsically linked to the time saving aspect of our service proposition for clients,” he says.

Emily McNally, associate safety compliance consultant at Chestertons, adds: “We can run reports as necessary to ensure we are meeting deadlines, meaning that properties remain compliant.”

According to John Roche, COO of Gas Tag, automating the reminder and notification process can reduce administration work for agents, making their compliance processes more streamlined.

“Notification and milestone systems like this have become essential – agents have the peace of mind that everything is in hand and can focus their attention on other parts of the business,” he says.

Combination of inhouse systems and specialist apps is effective

Gas Tag’s research also found that leading letting agencies are looking to integrate specialist compliance technology with their existing management software. The creation of these bespoke systems means that the agent can manage its properties in its own way while also benefiting from specialist products that are used across the industry.

Emily McNally says that Chestertons has its own IT operations system which logs information so it can be seen company-wide, while Mike Hookway says that Portico’s bespoke IT system has reduced the need for manual work, allowing the agency to reduce the time required to stay compliant.

Roche adds: “There is also huge value in identifying industry specialist apps and solutions which can be plugged into an agency’s existing system to provide additional support.”

“Collaboration and integration between agencies and technology products is absolutely crucial in keeping costs down and becoming more efficient,” he says.

Central documentation and online record keeping are crucial

As compliance pressures rise and the rental sector becomes increasingly regulated, the best letting agents are using technology to centralise processes and ensure they have online evidence of all actions.

One of the biggest challenges, according to agents, is the pressure to serve the correct legal documentation before, during and after a tenancy.

“Quick turnaround times and the ever-growing requirement for safety certificates to be in place prior to a tenancy starting or serving notice can put time pressure on matters,” says McNally.

Lisa Simon adds: “We now issue certificates digitally. This means that we can prove service and also maintain a centralised digital system to store all documentation for both parties.”

According to Hookway at Portico, cutting corners is simply not an option when it comes to the safety of landlords and tenants’ and technology is helping the agency to follow the right steps.

“Digital evidence and audit trails can help agents to protect consumers while ensuring they’re operating on the right side of the law,” says Roche.

“Looking towards 2020, agents’ relationship with technology will be key to streamline processes, make efficiency gains and most importantly, maintain a true reflection of their compliance.”