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Interview of Paul Staley
Written by the Property Investor Today team

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Paul Staley, Director of PRS at SDL Property Management

Who are you?

Paul Staley

What does it say on your business card?

Director of PRS at SDL Property Management.

What is SDL Property Management?

As its name suggests, SDL Property Management is part of the national property services company, SDL Group. We have four divisions within property management – including PRS and build-to-rent, which I lead. The others are estate and block management, commercial property management  and SDL Property Partners, a franchise for property management services.

How do you help landlords and property investors?

Across SDL Property Management, we assist clients with site identification and analysis, the design and mix of units, as well as marketing, lettings, tenant onboarding and management and, of course, management of the actual properties themselves.

What services do you provide?

My part of the business delivers a complete service for institutional landlords and investors, ‘from field to yield’. We work closely with our clients, advising on everything from site appraisals for PRS developments, to ensuring properties are well-maintained and – most importantly – deliver the expected returns. 

Does SDL Property Management benefit tenants, too?

Absolutely. Our schemes provide high-quality homes that meet the changing expectations of renters today. Many tenants like the fact that these properties require minimal maintenance and are in desirable locations.    

Why is it important for tenants to have rental payments contribute towards their credit score?

Currently, around 20 per cent of people are in rented homes (rising to nearly 40 per cent if we include affordable housing). Historically, rental payments were not counted in consumer credit scores – despite the fact that taking on a tenancy is a major financial commitment. We do carry out extensive credit checks, but some lettings agents and landlords still rely on references, which are not ideal. You need hard facts about their ability to pay, and payment patterns.

What is your greatest achievement in your current role and what made it so special?

Completing our first development in Liverpool in 2014 certainly stands out as a top achievement in my mind. I’m also proud that we have been able to deliver quality rental properties in the family housing market because it had never really been done before. We believed that build-to-rent would take off, however it has performed better than we had expected.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

Since a scheme normally takes around two years to complete, it’s always rewarding when there is a tenant in every unit and we can tick it off and move onto the next one. In the early days, we used to celebrate with cake in the office once the final unit was let. Since then, we’ve completed so many developments that it’s difficult to keep up – but we try to mark the milestone if we can.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing landlords at the moment?

At this time of year, rental arrears and bad debt tends to rise, mainly because people’s priorities change at Christmas. Some over-spend on presents, while others experience family break-ups that negatively impact their finances. The problem begins in December, although January is often the worst. As landlords, it’s important to have a plan in place to tackle it, which includes reminding tenants that paying rent is not optional.

What is your property prediction for 2019?

I have every confidence in the continued growth of PRS – but there will be a shift in the make-up of the market. As new investment in city centre apartment schemes ebbs away, we’ll see even more funds being ploughed into family housing development in the suburbs.

From a company perspective, we are on track to hit our targets. Having welcomed our 2,000th tenant in the summer, we now have2,500 on our books and plan to grow this to over 3,000 by the end of the financial year. While we are forecasting the growth in number of properties  under management by 1,800 over the next 12 months.

Thinking more broadly, we can’t ignore Brexit and the uncertainty it brings. This is no bad thing for the rental sector, since it may result in people putting off buying a property and renting instead. I hope too that house builders will take advantage of subdued land prices to launch new schemes.

For further information on SDL Property Management, please visit -www.sdlpropertymanagement.co.uk.

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