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Landlords, tenants, rookie agents… worries and truths

Lettings is not just about winning an instruction. Nor is it just about finding tenant. There is much more to it than that – and Frances Burkinshaw is worried.

Frances Burkinshaw

Link to Lettings/Training feature

Summer is a wistful memory; Autumn has dug itself in with wet and windy weather. University and school years finished months ago and those students who finally finished studying will have spread their wings far and wide during the summer – and now have to resist the wanderlust and, shock horror, many of them will now be looking for employment.

Many of those will find work within the property world. It sounds good, easy, fun, even. Many will find themselves working in the Residential Lettings world. To them it may appear simple…. gain an instruction to let a property, find a tenant, move them in and ‘bingo’ the commission will start rolling in – then move on to the next deal!

I worry about webinars. Mistakes could be made if new staff think that they know their job because they’ve been ‘trained’. But have they really been trained?

I constantly worry about that sort of attitude; I see it as I observe those in the industry. Sales people, very good at selling but are they good at the minutiae of lettings – of which there is so much? It takes so many personal skills to be an all- rounder in Residential Lettings.

That is where training comes in!

I know that I have previously mentioned the worries I have following the introduction of the Tenant Fees Ban and other regulations. I have worried that agencies will cut corners to save expenditure.

Cuts in training must never happen. The problems that could follow later would probably cost far more than the initial training might have cost. Attention to detail is everything in today’s world.

Tenants are now more aware of their rights than they have ever been; and quite rightly so. Some of these rights, however, can be misused with advisers looking for loopholes at every corner.

The recent principle examples of this are the well reported cases where the Section 21 notices have been found to be invalid as proof could not be given of the service of the gas safety record, EPC or How to Rent Guide prior to the tenant taking up the tenancy. So what must be done? Webinars have become the favoured form of training and I quite understand this trend. Clearly it is far less expensive for bosses to get their members of staff to log into a webinar than to send them far and wide on courses with the associated costs of travel and often accommodation.

Webinar worries

I do worry about webinars though; is the delegate really concentrating on what is being said on a screen, or are they checking their phone or ipad for other (perhaps much more entertaining) things whilst listening with one ear. If they only pick up on half of what is being taught then they may as well not have been logged in at all. Concentration and comprehension throughout the training is critical. Mistakes could and will be made by ‘green’ new employees thinking that they know their job because they have been ‘trained’. But have they really been trained?

I know that I am old fashioned; nobody needs to tell me! Even so, I still cannot agree that there is any substitute for the classroom – a small group of properly interested people listening attentively to the trainer, perhaps with a workbook and PowerPoint presentation to go with it. The trainer can see whether the delegates are engaging or not. That professional trainer (assuming it is a good, well trained, thorough and experienced trainer) can then ‘up’ the delivery or do whatever is necessary to engage those who are ’nodding off’!

The benefit of a trainer is that they have ‘been there’, ‘done it’ and ‘worn out many T-shirts’. The tales that can be told show that the trainer is human and in my experience that engages the delegates more than anything.

I’m not saying that distance learning is not good or useful – of course it is. I think, however, that it is best used as revision or as an update for learning that has happened before. New employees must be given the time and effort to help them to learn their new trade; in the long run this will turn them into the leaders of the future who, in turn, will train others coming into the industry.

Frances Burkinshaw is an experienced independent trainer available nationally for in-house or group training. 01892 783961 or 07887 714341 or [email protected]

December 2, 2019

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