Small fortunes have been spent trying to persuade self-managing landlords to use online platforms, but are they really needed? We asked one tech CEO to make his elevator pitch.

Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent developing online tech to help landlords manage their properties direct.

And this outpouring of investor cash appears to be working. When LandlordZone sat down with a dozen landlords last week to talk to them about their thoughts on the property market, many but not all had used tech in one form or another to manage their tenancies or businesses.

We sat down with Calum Brennan, CEO of England’s largest and oldest online lettings platform Howsy.co.uk, to find out if all this tech has a future or whether it’s just a passing tech fad.

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What advantages does tech offer landlords?

Brennan says he started up Howsy because he believes data can be used to make renting better and, for example, accurately price properties when they are listed and therefore help ‘shift them quicker’.
But Howsy’s tech can also complete some slightly more Orwellian feats including predicting when a tenant is going to default on a rent payment, and whether a landlord should repair or replace a boiler, for example.
“That’s what got me excited,” he says.

Landlord acceptance

Brennan says it used to be difficult to get landlords to accept tech, but claims it’s getting easier as they begin to use comparable ‘disruptor’ platforms such as Uber and become familiar with the advantages of online.

“I recently moved to a small town near our new Coventry customer service centre and found that I could use a laundry app to get my clothes dry cleaned; something that would have been unimaginable five years ago,” he says.

Costs

Brennan says Howsy’s tech enables it to hugely increase the margins that it makes from each property compared to a traditional letting agent and therefore this is passed on to the landlord as a lower fee.

Don’t landlords like local?

“Local expert agents have much to offer but their service levels and quality can vary from town to town or area to area, whereas our tech offers a consistent service and a national brand regardless of where it’s delivered,” he says.

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