Mutuality in the PRS

Mutuality in the PRS

30 August 2018 | Richard Berridge

The world of the Private Rented Sector and Build-to-Rent is always on the look-out for a word or phrase that neatly articulates how the relationship between renters and property managers is changing. The new and necessary move to a non-adversarial relationship requires an equally innovative term to describe this positive direction of travel.

Renter-centricity; a phrase coined by Vaboo to express this new focus is one such phrase. But what does it actually mean, and why are we strenuously moving away from the tried and tested landlord/tenant structure?

It's easier to answer the first part first because it's obvious: it's the focus on the interests of renters; their opinions, attitudes, values, comfort, and behaviour to give them the very best renting experience possible.

The second part, the 'why' is more difficult. There are still a large number of agents and landlords for whom the ways of the past are perfectly satisfactory and who think that treating their 'tenants' as potential blackguards is de rigueur. Think Fergus Wilson!

And it's not always clear the 'enlightened' industry is of one voice either: I read a very recent piece by someone who would considers himself an integral mover and shaker in the (to paraphrase Orwell's Newspeak) 'NewRent' zeitgeist in which he argued that renters must shoulder their fair share of responsibility when it comes to arriving at a position of 'mutuality' with their proprietor or operational manager.

However, we do not find ourselves in a position where we can make positive strides when it comes to renter experience by expecting the renters to meet us half-way. Not initially at least. Years of mistrust and stories of rogue landlords and of horrifying conditions means that we have to be the 'first-movers'. To begin to build the trust that has to form the basis of 'NewRent', communication, the way we engage renters and the manner in which we resolve issues has to come from us; the industry.

There are very strong commercial reasons why 'NewRent' is the way forward.

  • Long-term tenants: When a renter feels more like a valued member of a community, rather than just a customer, it'll likely make them want to stay longer, imbue a sense of 'home' and a feeling of ownership. Positive renter engagement promotes this.
  • Trust: When you make it easy for renters to contact you when they have issues, and then resolve the issue in a timely manner, it helps build trust. When you treat renter concerns as valid, accept responsibility and take immediate steps to resolve their concerns, a more trusting relationship is the outcome.
  • Renter satisfaction: Enhancing communication and quickly resolving issues, ultimately, helps improve renter satisfaction. And when word gets out about this, it helps to make a property and proprietor a more desirable, more valued option.
  • All of which: Reduces churn, maintains high occupancy, adds value, breaks down barriers, minimises conflict, helps negotiation and, crucially, adds to the bottom line.

Renter-centricity is crucial in creating a better PRS for everyone. For renters, it provides a quantum leap in the renting experience. For agents, it means a much-improved relationship with the renters, which in turn makes for happier clients. And for the owners themselves; significantly better returns, lower churn, better occupancy and mutuality with their renters.