In the second audit of the UK lettings sector and just over one year since the first Customer Service Audit results were announced, the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) in association with Nottingham Trent University has revealed even higher levels of landlord and tenant satisfaction with the standards of service received from accredited agents.
The survey is fast-becoming a benchmark for measuring standards in the lettings sector and over 1000 landlords and tenants participated in the 2006-2007 survey. An impressive 92% of landlords* and 87% of tenants** confirmed their satisfaction with performance against a number of stringent performance criteria covering the systems and processes undertaken by an accredited agent when letting a property.
For tenants, every aspect of the letting experience with agents has improved since the last audit with the speed of agent’s response to repairs up to 85% (77%), adequacy of notice of agent’s intention to visit the property up to 93% (90%) and information on provision of utility services up to 82% (78%).
With high levels of satisfaction reported in the first audit, it was always going to be tough to improve landlord satisfaction but advice from agents on rental income increased to 99% (98%), lettings advice remained consistent at 99% as did levels of consultation prior to deposit return at 90%.
Interestingly, before the first round of tenancies agreed under the terms of the new tenancy deposit schemes come up for review, the survey highlighted a 10% improvement in tenants who were ‘very satisfied’ with the level of consultation prior to the return of the deposit with deductions:
“Clearly, accredited agents are committed to delivering levels of customer service which meet tenant and landlord expectation, commented Caroline Pickering, chair, NALS.
“With satisfaction results consistently reporting in the 80 and 90 percentage field, it’s obviously working and hugely positive for the sector.”
The survey results also boasted encouraging results for NALS, highlighting that 69% of tenants stated that if they were to rent a different property, they are more likely to select a letting agent which is a member of NALS and likewise, 78% of landlords are more likely to place future business with a NALS accredited agent
“With almost 80% of landlords likely to seek NALS accreditation when looking to place a property with an agent, the message is clear; NALS accreditation is good for your business, continued Pickering.
“The UK now has in place an established and credible nationwide accreditation scheme that gives agents a robust set of standards. With two strong sets of audit results in, we are confident that NALS is the ready-made alternative to licensing in the private rented sector,” concluded Pickering.
The Customer Service Audit was compiled by John R Mansfield and Dr Rachel Mansfield at the School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment, Nottingham Trent University.
* 90% of landlords were satisfied with performance in 2005-2006
** 85% in 2005-2006 of tenants were satisfied with performance in 2005-2006
The survey questioned a new sample of 1049 landlords and tenants with questionnaires (based on the 2005 questionnaires with very minor amendments) to assess the effectiveness of the National Approved Letting Scheme.
NALS is backed by the Government and the professional bodies in the lettings sector. NALS offers a reliable benchmark for landlords and tenants to compare the standards of service they receive from residential letting agents. All accredited firms commit to providing clearly defined levels of customer service, have client money protection cover, maintain professional indemnity insurance and operate a customer complaints procedure. For more information visit www.nalscheme.co.uk
The National Letting Scheme Board comprises:
Caroline Pickering (Chair), representatives from Communities and Local Government (CLG), RICS, ARLA, NAEA as well as the British Property Federation, the National Landlords Association, the Guild of Letting and Management and Sanctuary Shaftesbury Housing.