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With the financial pressures from COVID-19 still unclear for many, new research commissioned by payments provider, PayPoint, throws the spotlight on small adjustments landlords and lettings agencies could make to help tenants manage their finances during this uncertainty and beyond.
And, with concerns surrounding overdue rent particularly high, it seems that many renters would welcome a gentle nudge, in the form of a text message or email, to remind them of arrears or approaching payments.
62% said this would help them manage their financial situation.
Flexible payment plans and simple transaction processes were also high on the list of priorities. 70% of respondents believe that quick and easy access to make digital payments would encourage them to make overdue payments.
The majority of respondents (69%) would welcome a flexible payment option to help reduce rental arrears and manage their future payments.
Danny Vant, Client Services Director for PayPoint commented: “While the country has moved on from its first wave of coronavirus and the initial fallout, it’s obvious that, up and down the country, people are finding new ways to manage their financial situations.
"A big part of that is how they are handling overdue and approaching payments.
"It is crucial that both private and social landlords tune in to the current market and offer tenants innovative solutions such as flexible payment plans and simple transaction processes. Landlords must also adopt a sympathetic approach to communicating.”
Over half (57%) of respondents to the PayPoint survey said they find it intimidating when their landlord calls them about an overdue payment, even though 67% said they still answer the phone if their landlord calls.
Being able to speak to someone from the tenants’ housing association or letting agencies, who is understanding of the individual’s financial situation, was also important to renters, with 78% saying this would help them manage their finances.
Vant continued: “Our survey has shown that even when in arrears, renters are open to discussions with landlords. Renters can, understandably, feel intimidated when landlords or agencies call about late payments, so a new form of dialogue is needed. This conversation should be sympathetic and offer personal and flexible plans.
“Landlords must now work with tenants to manage this difficult period and, in doing so, better prepare both parties long term finances.”
PayPoint’s new collection tool, PayByLink, available through its digital payment solution, MultiPay, helps landlords engage with tenants sensitively and responsibly via SMS and email, to remind them of payment dates, offer flexible payment terms and make arrears collections.
This will be particularly helpful as the UK navigates through the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For more news and updates around arrears, welfare reform and rents, HQN's Rent Income Excellence Network is the place to be. Find out how your organisation can sign up.