Having just joined the Eightfold Team, it seemed like the opportune moment to take stock of the current property market as part of setting up the new Property Management department here at Eightfold Property. As with everything at present, the pandemic has impacted the way we view, occupy and interact with property and I believe we would do well to give this our careful consideration going forward. That being said, the future looks bright and I am thoroughly excited to be here, heading up our new department.

With the recent welcome announcement from the Prime Minister that phase 2 of the roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead for England from the 12th of April, many in the country will be looking forward, albeit with some apprehension, as to what the summer and then remainder of the year ahead has in store.  Accompanied by typically brief glimpses of warmer weather there has been a tangible change in the atmosphere of the City with frantic preparations underway in our traditionally thriving hospitality, leisure and retail venues to accommodate the return of customers through their doors.

The most recent BCC Quarterly Economic Survey has shown that businesses are becoming more optimistic about the future and, with change afoot, now may provide a good time to reflect on the ways in which we have all had to adapt to navigate the various challenges that have taken place in our social, economic and political landscape during the past year.

The advent of  COVID-19 restrictions has created an unprecedented challenge for both tenants and landlords alike, with strained relationships having resulted from a unique economic context. Resolution to such matters has come not from a lack of dialogue, but instead from flexibility and understanding facilitated via tactile mediation between both parties. Looking at the relationship between both landlord and tenant it is easy to overlook that their relationship is one of economic partners and consequently  it is in the interest of both to do what is possible to reasonably allow commercially viable enterprises to stay open and trading during the recovery.

The Coronavirus Act, originally introduced in March 2020, provided commercial tenants with protection from eviction due to missed rental payments and has been extended further, remaining in force until the 30th June, in an attempt to assist businesses as restrictions are eased. To avoid future problems on its expiry it is imperative that landlords and tenants work collaboratively now to find mutually beneficial and sustainable arrangements that allow for debts to be cleared.

Important to take into consideration is that not all types of property have been affected in the same way, with higher population density facilities such as gyms and certain types of retailing being significantly worse impacted than the industrial and warehouse sector. Just as the Government has recognised the need for flexibility on the high street through the recent changes to the Use Classes Order, it would be prudent for landlords to recognise that there will be a need for greater flexibility by allowing tenants to adapt space to suit their needs, such as permitting alterations to make provision for greater outdoor seating capacity or to allow for increased ventilation or potentially integrating mixed uses into premises.

Complications resultant from the pandemic have also extended to service charges with tenants who have been unable to trade and occupy units unable or reluctant due to business uncertainty to contribute towards the running costs of a property. Landlords, however,  still need to be diligent in meeting their lease obligations with the provision of services such as security, compliance with health and safety legislation and essential maintenance all still required. Ultimately, fairness and transparency are key to the administration of a service charge account that serves both the protection of a building and its occupiers and landlords who can be seen to be working towards reducing costs where possible are likely to win favour with tenants who may be worried about meeting their payment obligations.

With the challenges presented by Covid-19 to the property sector, landlords with pro-active management in place have been able to reduce their loss of income through improved tenant retention, the avoidance of void periods and continued receipt of rental payments. Considering the symbiotic nature between landlord and tenant, the need to be adaptable and highly communicative has been evident in the context of last year more than ever.

With institutional practices being challenged and the property sector experiencing widespread change at both regional and national level there could not be a more appropriate time for us to be launching our new forward-thinking Property Management department to provide tailored, proactive management services for residential blocks, commercial premises and mixed-use investments. Building on the strong  success of our residential and commercial agency departments we have considered in depth those factors that are most important to property owners. Our service will ensure full responsibility for managed property assets, build positive relationships between landlord and tenants to minimise voids and maximise revenue, whilst ensuring full compliance with an increasingly complex array of legislation.

By stepping back and evaluating the role of property management within the context of a changing environment we have been able to rethink how we can best place ourselves to serve the needs of our clients. With change ahead, I’m excited not just for the reopening of the city but also to announce the expansion of Eightfold to incorporate our new Property Management service.

We are now taking on new and existing clients for management, so if you'd like to talk a little more about how we may be of assistance, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me at charlie@eightfold.agency