By Rory Cramer, Co-founder, HomeViews
There is no question that the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent isolation and social distancing measures have challenged the human spirit more than we could ever have imagined. We are having to quickly adapt the way we work, socialise, shop and stay fit and healthy. We are seeing innovation as companies strive to stay connected and supportive to their customers, and this is certainly true in the Build to Rent sector.
Building management teams – a crucial cog in the efficient running of a Build to Rent building – are doing all they can to boost the morale of their tenants and keep the buildings and services running smoothly in these difficult times. We know from recent analysis of the reviews on our site that tenants value building management, with the top performing Build to Rent developments delivering a strong building management service rated 4.5 out of 5 and above.
Now, more than ever, good building management services are critical to both the safety and sanity of residents. We are starting to see reviews coming in from Build to Rent residents that describe specifically how their building management team is helping during the Coronavirus lockdown.
“The Property management team go above and beyond and have been in regular communication via email and phone with tenants to ensure everyone is safe and well during the Covid-19 outbreak.”Ben, Verified Resident at Fizzy Canning Town, March 2020
Many Build to Rent operators and their teams are helping to keep their tenants’ spirits up in a variety of ways. For example, Fizzy Living have set up forums to keep residents up to date, online resources from well-being tips to keeping fit, as well as the latest government guidance and information. They are also hosting virtual Fizzy Drinks on Fridays to help everyone stay connected and entertained.
The community aspect, too, is crucial in helping to maintain health and wellbeing. Again, we know from our reviews that residents’ value communal space and events. When talking about community spirit, 24% of our Build to Rent reviewers felt that events had helped to foster a sense of community. Greystar is another operator launching a virtual calendar of events for their residents to help maintain this.
Some Build to Rent landlords are doing their best to keep communal spaces open, with new rules and enhanced cleanliness in order to do so. For example, in Bravo’s buildings, communal areas are being cleaned every hour and monitored. All house keepers and Property Managers are wearing masks and gloves which are being changed frequently in order to keep them safe.
Indeed, many Build to Rent providers have increased the amount of cleaning in communal areas, and many are enabling residents to keep in touch with building management teams online. For example, Fizzy are hosting a weekly “BOOM HOUR” with residents, giving access to their ‘BOB’ (the name of all Fizzy’s dedicated property managers) via Zoom. This is a drop-in surgery allowing residents to ‘pop in’ and ask any questions or just say hello and keep in touch outside of the normal email and phone call.
Likewise, at Get Living, resident-facing teams are now working from home but are still available by phone and email, and some have moved into its neighbourhoods to ensure they have ongoing 24/7 on call support. Essential Living’s on-site teams are even offering assistance with shopping deliveries for residents who are self-isolating, having partnered with smaller local grocery business, who deliver essentials such as fruit, vegetables, milk and bread.
With the majority of Build to Rent tenants now working from home, providers have also moved to supply enhanced WiFi provision. Essential Living and Bravo are offering free upgrades on internet services to all residents, making the home office experience an easier, more efficient option and helping tenants to stay safe at home wherever possible.
There can be no doubt that this pandemic has been – and will continue to be – a tough challenge for all of us. However, it is great to see that Build to Rent operators are doing all they can to take care of their tenants while also keeping their own staff safe. We can only hope that it is over soon, and that the incredible community spirit we have seen from everyone will live on and change how we support one another for the better.