I originally wrote this post in November last year but things overtook me and it is only today that I have had a chance to revisit it. I am taking the time to pause and reflect on the last year.
At the beginning of the year I knew a little about serviced accommodation and apart from helping to assist with a few houses that was it. That all changed in February when one of my clients took on a new block of apartments, which had been delayed from last summer. It was baptism by fire. I am experienced in dealing with people but some of the guest expectations were like nothing I had ever seen. With multiple maintenance issues it certainly took a few months and a long snagging list, before everything was fixed. The heating there is not the easiest to operate, so we all learnt how to do this from videos and now can repeat the instructions in our sleep. Then summer arrived and the requests for fans came with it and several times staff were dispatched for more! As winter arrived we laughed about the need to remind ourselves how the heating works. The number of people who call and message telling us the stove is broken - no it's not please have a look at the video we sent you! The child lock was on or you hadn't got a pan on the ring. The joys of induction hobs!
On the plus side I can now list properties on booking channels and connect to the software of choice. The software my clients use is not particularly user friendly unless you are technical, at times we are convinced the only people who understand it are the developers! I've gone from the time it connected to the wrong listing (there was a problem with the channel we were connecting to, not the software or users) and caused us chaos for days and weeks to follow, even though it was only connected for 2 hours to being fairly laid back, sometimes, when connecting to the channel manager. I now make sure I do all my listings and pull them through undisturbed. I've also learnt about different software associated with serviced accommodation.
I have also continued working with clients on managing their HMOs, which come with a different set of challenges. To help with my knowledge. I took my Level 3 NRLA Property Management and Lettings, which I am incredibly proud of. The biggest issue was breaking a charger when trying to make sure I could be seen taking the exam. It was elevated on a shelf and dropped off part way through!
The biggest challenge with the HMOs has been guarantors. From personal experience I know that some agents won't consider guarantors unless they are home owners, or accept guarantor companies. This is a regular discussion in some groups where parents talk about university. This year I've seen people try to give guarantors who haven't agreed to act as a guarantor, people who aren't eligible to act as a guarantor for a number of different reasons ranging from not having a regular income or the right to live and work in the UK for the period of the tenancy.
While I rent my own home and am familiar with ASTs this year I have looked at it from a parent's perspective and having to try to be Mum, rather than look at it from a professional perspective! Are you sure you really want to put that up there? While really thinking how much painting is going to need to be done when you leave to ensure you get your deposit back? The indoor water feature was an unwanted additional feature, (leaking sky lights) along with the lack of regular heating (2 hours morning and 2 hours in the evening) included in their tenancy!
The mould in her room, due to maintenance issues was the final straw and yes she did open her window regularly! The issues have now been sorted except they never want to get up as the house isn't very warm. Who puts the thermostat on the unit above the tumble dryer near the 2 ovens! This is my daughter's real experience in her shared house. She now has a heated throw and I tested it the last time I went to visit and it is better than being cold when she puts it on high!
With January closing I am thinking about the next few months and what I want from my business. I am looking at not only the services I offer to my clients but how to schedule time to work on my business. Basically getting organised. I am great at organising my clients but not so great at making sure I work on my own things.
While as a freelancer I am used to the lulls in work, especially around this time of year and working flat out when needed, I have already decided not to take time off during the busy time of year when students are moving in and out of their rental properties (note to self I am allowed to have a day off to move my own university student)!
I am a specialist property virtual assistant, looking after HMOs, single lets and multi lets.