The BBC ran a newsworthy item this week regarding excessive fees charged by letting agents. In one case a couple were asked to pay a £1000 holding deposit to secure their flat then, more fees were added - they were told that these were 'letting agent fees'. They felt like they had no choice but to pay. The biggest part of these 'letting agent fees' was £525 for 'admin, credit and reference checks'.
The tenants felt they had to pay or lose their opportunity, the letting agent was charging fees to both the tenants and landlord. The programme claimed the letting agents make charges to the tenants so they can reduce the charges they pass on to the landlord - mmm.
Kate Webb - Head of Policy at Shelter was interviewed in the programme and said that the letting agents are contracted by the landlords but some charges are passed on to the tenants who have very little control of choice as to who their letting agent is.
Using rooms-a-gogo allows tenants and landlords to deal direct with each other - cut out the middle man - cut out the agent - cut out the agent fees. As a tenant you can use the rooms-a-gogo website on-line hub to find your next rental property by making direct contact with the landlord yourself.
Only just this week one of our newly registered rooms-a-gogo landlords was bemoaning the fact that both he and his tenant both wanted to sever ties with their letting agent. The agent wanted high fees for renewing a tenancy agreement, they had not been helpful to either party, they were unresponsive to requests from both and it became hard work trying to do business with them. Even at the last hour the agent was making it very difficult to retrieve the tenants deposit so that the landlord and tenant could move on.
In a recent survey of the rental market in the UK it was revealed that over 90% of tenants want a direct and professional relationship with their landlord.
rooms-a-gogo - supporting landlords to manage their own properties and portfolios. As a landlord you can use the rooms-a-gogo website on-line hub to advertise your property for free and find your next tenant yourself.
Visit roomsagogo for more info
There’s no point doing social media if it’s not engaging. It’s like shouting about your business to an empty room.
When we say engagement we mean getting people to interact and engage with what you post. So that means likes, shares, tags, retweets, favourites, comments, mentions, follows and clicks. Whatever form it takes, engagement is vital.
But it’s not as easy as it sounds is it? You might post updates and pictures all day and night but no-one does anything with them. So how do you know what will engage?
The first thing to do is to join in with what’s going on. You need to be engaged yourself to engage others. Social media’s full of conversations about all sort of things so become a part of at least one. You can ask and answer questions too. Don’t be shy as you’ll be surprised what people are willing to tell you when asked on social media!
Then you need to make sure your content’s great. And that means all content. Write entertaining, informative blog posts people will want to read. Use images too. Images that grab the attention, make people laugh or tell a story work best. Also think about video. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy as you can make your own on Persicope or Vine to start with. Mix and match your forms of content to really boost engagement. Repost popular items regularly for new followers to discover.
Throw in the odd podcast as well. Recording an opinion piece or simply reading a blog out loud and recording it can build engagement as people have to concentrate on what you’re saying and just hearing your voice can often create a connection. There’s loads of software around for podcasting. In fact, you can probably do it on your phone.
When you post is as important as what you post. Maybe even more so. You might find scheduling tweets and posts on something like Hootsuite or Sprout can help you find when the best time to do it is. Generally speaking, afternoons and early evenings are a good time to post. Of course certain days of the week are better for engagement than others. Thursdays and Fridays consistently score highest in the engagement stakes. You’ll also find people are more in the mood for humour towards the end of the week so you can get away with less business-like updates.
These are relatively quick and simple ways to generate engagement with your social media. But to take it to the next level, you’ll need a bit more time and have to make an effort. It involves engaging with influencers. These are users with massive followings everyone knows. To engage with them, review their articles or books, tweets links to blogs they’ve written or write about them in one of your own, and let them know by mentioning them. They might like it and share it with their followers. Ask them for advice too as most influencers will have a pretty big ego and like it massaged. They relish being seen as experts and influencers so take advantage of that. Once you’re in with a major influencer, your engagement will go up a good few notches.
One of the many great things about social media is that you can share other people’s information quickly and easily. So when someone posts a link or an image you can let them know you like it by retweeting or favouriting it. Social media users love it when you do this as it means they’re creating interesting, engaging content people are willing to share.
But what if you’re busy and see a tweet or Facebook post you like the look of from someone you trust and you simply retweet or favourite it without reading any attached links? Could doing this potentially damage your reputation or make your customers think you agree with a controversial opinion?
The answer’s yes. It could. Occasionally people post articles and videos that could land you in hot water. It may be that they’re offering their political opinion on a subject or making a comment on a news item. There’s nothing wrong with that but it may be you don’t agree with what’s being said. And your customers won’t either. Even worse, there are cases where social media users have been prosecuted for simply clicking retweet, favourite, like or share. Even if a post has been intended as a joke or in a light-hearted way, you have to be really careful not to break libel or other laws.
If you’re busy but want to help your connections out by sharing their information, put some time aside to read it later in the day. Go back to it when you’ve finished working or when you’re on your lunch. Then you can give their content the time it deserves. If you think it’s worthy of a retweet or so on, then give it one. If you don’t or think it might cause you issues somewhere down the line, then leave it and move it.
The majority of information posted on Twitter and Facebook is generally interesting, insightful and useful. It’s always worth a read. You’ll find loads of witty banter, several titbits of fascinating news stories and hundreds of creative pictures and videos. Some will go viral and get loads of comments. But every so often there’ll be something that might cause you a bit of bother. So make sure you read or watch everything you’re going to share online.
This blog, of course, is definitely worth sharing with as many people as you can!
Landlords how do YOU avoid voids?
I’m pretty sure that when you bought your first Buy-to-Let property you had aspirations of it being a somewhat easy, hands off, stress free process after all how hard can it be; get a property, put in a tenant, collect the rent. Rocket science it ‘ain’t. There’ll always be a ready, constant source of tenants. Voids? Don’t need to worry about voids!
In reality though how has that been for you? When you receive the phone call, the e-mail or the text that your tenant is on the move there is the potential of a void. Very often the first you know of this potential void is when a request arrives from an agent wanting a reference for your tenant mmm.
What’s your first reaction? Joy, disappointment, worry, PANIC? Do you complain that you had no indication your tenant was thinking of leaving?
If this is you then read on
So how do you avoid those voids? Well like any good business one needs to
BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
Investing in time to find the right tenants right at the start is key, identifying their expectations from their tenancy with you, and what you expect of them. It’s a partnership after all and a great opportunity for you as their Landlord to develop a good working relationship with your tenant, even though they may have only signed up for a 6 months AST, if you do things right, there’s a great opportunity for you to ensure that they re-sign or move into an SPT and become a reliable long-term tenant.
Even though we ask our tenants to advise their intention to stay in their contract by the end of the 4th month of their AST are we sufficiently in touch with our business to know their intentions and thereby avoid any void being created, the tenant after all IS our business.
Ensuring that your tenant is treated as the core of your rental business provides you with the knowledge and insight necessary to plan properly in avoiding voids. However, one should always have good access to a reliable source of potential tenants who can immediately fill your next vacancy, your next void.
We have an expression here at rooms-a-gogo it’s called 'Hotbedding! That is one of the secrets to our success (not to be taken literally).
Once you have a new tenant take that new opportunity to build a relationship with them. Tenants tell us they WANT a relationship with their Landlord and they WANT to be treated with respect.
Encourage tenants who have a professional relationship with you as their Landlord to meet your new tenants so they quickly get to know what a great Landlord you are. Help your tenants even when they’re are moving out. They are your best ambassadors and a good source of your next tenants. Encourage your exiting tenants to tell others that they are moving and how their old tenancy will be available; after all they will meet a really good Landlord.
Remember a good relationship with your tenant will help to ensure that they keep your place looking great for when you take a prospective tenant around.
There really are no end of things you can do build your trust with your tenant. Use these small tips to gain your competitive edge, get to market quickly but above all AVOID VOIDS.
Remember at www.rooms-a-gogo.co.uk we love to match Tenants to Landlords and Landlords to Tenants
Angela & Wayne
Conversations with your followers are a must
A lot of people, and businesses, don’t indulge in conversations on Twitter or Facebook. They simply use them to post information, offers or facts about themselves. But the brands which really succeed at social media and totally engage with their followers are those that have conversations.
Social media is how people communicate nowadays. So use it to communicate with your customers. Ask their opinion on things. Give them something interesting to look at and comment on their posts. Speak to them as you would in a face to face situation and show interest in them.
Many companies use social media as their customer service department and respond directly to customers’ queries and complaints this way. Great examples include Tesco Mobile, Argos and Virgin Trains who bring a personal touch to their Twitter feeds when dealing with customers and really engage with them. It gives their companies a personality and gets away from the problem some people have with dealing with large, faceless corporations.
You can also try starting a question and answer session using a particular hashtag – a bit like the weekly #Chestertweets – where you can offer advice and help to your followers on subjects you’re an expert on. Or you could simply talk about an issue in the news you know a lot about and ask your followers if they have any questions on it. Accountants at budget time is a good example.
Always respond quickly to questions too. People expect social media to be instant so if you get asked something make sure you reply as soon as you can. How fast you deal with issues or simple questions can help your business’s reputation. Nice and quick will help it, too slowly will hinder it.
It’s also important how you deal with negative feedback on social media. Many companies don’t monitor what’s being said about them or even ignore anything bad. Instead deal with it like you would any other complaint: quickly, appropriately and thoroughly. Just because it’s on social media doesn’t mean the issue’s any less important than any other way you’d receive it. So sort it quickly. Don’t swear or get involved in un-pleasantries though. Social media is named so for a reason so keep it that way.
So get involved in conversations with your followers and engage with them. And if they’re having a chat about something, join in. They’ll appreciate that as much as they will you starting something. Anyone following you on Twitter or who likes you on Facebook is a potential customer and going that extra mile and conversing with them on social media might just make the difference when they come to use your services.
Give it a try today.
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