Tackling the headache of Void periods By Jaime Tillyer, of Vouch | Kerfuffle

Tackling the headache of Void periods By Jaime Tillyer, of Vouch

Voids have always been a headache for agents and landlords, especially for those in areas with a relatively static rental market without the guarantee of securing new tenants quickly. Occupants of buy-to-let properties tend to move on at some stage, whether that’s because of work or perhaps they’re getting on the property ladder themselves. But the problem of empty properties also affects more than just the homeowner and agent; it impacts energy and utility providers as well.

As we find ourselves in the middle of a cost of living crisis, energy companies are struggling. Over the past 12 months alone we have seen over 40 energy companies go bust, displacing over 5 million of their customers. This is a concern for the lettings market, as there’s not a one size fits all approach taken to what landlords include as part of their monthly charges to tenants. Uncertainty within the energy industry has a knock-on effect for letting agents and their properties, including the way that they’re managed.

Currently, the domestic energy market in the UK suffers from the proxy of “do nothing and pay more”. It’s also the case that dealing with energy companies is notoriously time-consuming, overly complex and inefficient. When you consider the increasing pressure to reduce void turnaround times, whilst also ensuring tenants have access to affordable energy packages, the landscape becomes increasingly difficult to navigate.

With this in mind, we had numerous conversations with our clients and people within the sector, and it became increasingly apparent that one of the biggest frustrations when looking into changing suppliers is having to deal with the middle man, spending hours left on hold to call centres and having no clue whether you’re getting the best deal or not. This is what inspired us to find a solution.

It became clear to us that the existing voids offerings available through our partners were just not in line with how the agents or the Vouch platform works. So the solution as we saw it was to do what we do best and build a new platform from the agents' point of view. Whilst making sure our agents are able to obtain the best deals, we also wanted to equip them with a new revenue stream during this era of heightened costs.

This is what we’ve managed to do by building Vouch Voids. The Vouch Voids dashboard enables agents to automatically switch providers to ScottishPower upon change of occupancy and allows agents to earn a commission for void properties that are successfully switched to ScottishPower. At the same time, this minimises landlord costs during the void period as the property will be set up on a no standing charge tariff for up to 45 days, with the tenants then able to access a range of tariffs, from a safe and stable supplier.

The dashboard is also designed to save agents time and introduce new efficiencies into the change of tenancy process. The technology is able to send automated meter readings to utility companies to ensure accurate billing, thereby cutting down on unnecessary costs. Agents are also able to manage all of their properties from a single user-friendly platform, something which is incredibly valuable to those with who we work. We’ve also made sure that the Vouch Voids service will be able to notify council tax & water authorities of any changes in occupancy.

We wanted to enable our customers to use the same login details to manage both their digital referencing and voids through the new service, with zero double data entry required. We know how tricky it can be for agents to stay on top of their revenue streams, so our new dashboard allows for users to engage with ScottishPower via Vouch, cutting out the middlemen completely and avoiding unreported commissions.

Since its launch in February, we are seeing encouraging results. 318 of our clients have been making the most of the service, filing through over 800 voids resulting in almost £16,400 of potential commission.

Having worked as letting agents ourselves, everything that we introduce has been developed with both agents and tenants in mind. We know how vital it is to not only develop new revenue streams but to ensure that tenants and landlords have a smooth, positive experience with each tenancy. We’ve therefore simplified a process that’s often complicated and laborious, whilst creating new opportunities for agents to earn a commission - a must in such financially pressing times.

Find out more about Vouch by visiting their landing page on Kerfuffle

Posted by

Annabel McGuire

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