The rise of digital rental

How COVID-19 accelerated the emphasis and role of technology

The growth of the internet and technology has transformed virtually every aspect of our lives, including how we approach the property market, with many now favouring digital interaction.

Research by found that one-in-seven tenants rent “without viewing”.

This trend is set to continue, with virtual viewings and online reservations becoming the new normal, largely driven by travel and social restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With 91% of all apartment residents likely to use a mobile device the next time they are looking for an apartment, it’s imperative that BTR operators ensure prospective tenants can easily find and browse available apartments online.

By having digital listings which include key details such as price, photos, CGIs, maps, floor plans and more, prospective residents can make an immediate decision based on impulse rather than going away and researching alternatives.

Impact on Customer: Creating a better first ‘impression’ and ensuring that they are on-boarded quicker and more effectively – streamlining communications and increasing satisfaction.

Impact on Project or Investment: Allows operators and/or managers to run a more efficient and consistent on-boarding process, reducing workload and ensuring tenants remain engaged throughout the entire process.

Providing all necessary information online helps create transparency between prospective tenant and BTR operator

Providing all necessary information online not only helps to create transparency between the prospective tenant and BTR operator, but also helps to streamline the reservation process.

By digitalising the applicant journey, prospective residents can view the progression of their tenancy in real-time, communicate with your team, sign contracts, and even make payments, all online.

Being able to see where they are in the process can also help to manage expectations of how far along the journey they are.

Picture showing a passport wi

Online portals can show examples of required documents

With every tenant following the same automated onboarding process, online systems can also provide examples of accepted documentation and a clear indication of which documents still need to be produced by the applicant, saving hundreds of admin hours having to chase for the right documents.

Online systems can also make resident screening, arguably the most important part of the rental process, easier.

Early detection of residents who could cause damage to the property, break their tenancy, or pay rent late will help BTR operators begin the tenancy with the best possible option.

As online applicants increase, it’s vital that BTR operators are equipped to prevent fraud. From identity theft to fake bank statements, an unprepared landlord runs the risk of accepting bad applicants, which may lead to issues down the road.

Companies like Flatfair also play a role in making the resident onboarding process much slicker by eliminating the need for upfront deposits.

Residents can simply pay a one-off membership fee equal to one week’s rent (+VAT) at the start of their tenancy, authorise their debit card and settle bills at the end – similar to a hotel check-in and out.

Once a tenant has moved in, technology such as resident portals can also make the lives of operators and residents easier.

58% of renters would rather pay rent using a resident portal rather than a property website

According to research by NMHC and Kingsley, 58% of renters would rather pay rent using a resident portal rather than a property website via laptop/desktop.

When rent is easy to pay, residents are more likely to pay it.

If they have to jump through hoops to pay their rent, the chances of it being late increases. With complete end-to-end residency management solutions like Spike Lettings, you can also send out reminders to residents a day or two before their rent is due and can even automate confirmations to let them know that their rent has been paid.

This will also make life easier for the BTR operator. Instead of waiting around for payments to come in or having to chase down residents across multiple properties, they can easily view the status of each property, what rent has been paid, and what has yet to come in, all via a single dashboard.

The face-to-face business style of the property industry is changing forever, as virtual viewings become the new normal. Digital solutions can manage a resident’s journey in its entirety, from initial enquiry, through the reservation stage, all the way to moving in, building a life there and connecting with the community.

Not a member?

The ARL is the leading member association for all those involved in the Build to Rent sector. Members get access to the Best Practice Guide as a benefit of membership. Members also get access to our events program, opportunities to join Forums and Working Groups and our research and thought leadership outputs.

Join now Contact us