Like every other company, we had to make adjustments – and fast. We had to get used to operating remotely for a time, during the worst days of the pandemic, and then safely return to office environments while being wary of the ongoing threat posed by Covid.
We had to make some difficult decisions, but we’ve also been amazed by the diligence, adaptability and resilience of our staff, who have helped us to keep thriving despite all the challenges. The market has boomed since the property market was allowed to reopen in May 2020, and that’s meant a lot of work for our staff and the company as a whole – but this has very much been taken in their stride.
How important is it for landlords to strive for the highest standards?
Massively important. Landlords have a moral and legal duty to keep their tenants safe and to provide habitable and welcoming homes. All sorts of new regulation and legislation has been introduced in recent years, with more coming all the time. While this can be understandably frustrating, it’s also being done for good reason. And, whether they agree with some of the rules or not, landlords must ensure they are sticking to them to improve the market for everyone.
Ultimately, a well-regulated market is a safer and more transparent one, which makes it much harder for the minority of rogue landlords to operate. By striving for the highest possible standards, landlords can know they’re doing their bit towards making the PRS a great place to rent a home.
Can you tell us more about Atkinson McLeod?
Atkinson McLeod was founded in 2002 by me and Dan McLeod, and we’ve always been very keen on being very service-led and driven. Essentially, estate agency is about offering a great service to the customer – whether that be a seller or a landlord, or someone else – and that’s why we’ve always been so hot on building long-term relationship with clients, so they use us time and time again.
Our first office launched in the City, and others have since followed across the whole of the capital, from Kennington and Balham to Hackney and Canary Wharf.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role and what made it so special?
This year marks our 20th anniversary. When I reflect over this time, there are a lot of achievements and it’s difficult to choose one. We have faced many challenges over the last 20 years, including the financial crash, Brexit and now Covid. I feel as a business we’ve done well to navigate these. We have continued to trade across diverse markets in London, from family homes in Southwest London to penthouse apartments in the Docklands. Our team have continued to deliver a service focused on the customer and we have done well to retain much of a client base over the last 20 years.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
I’ve enjoyed recruiting some very talented individuals over the years. Whilst in the short-term, it’s not great to lose people, it is satisfying when someone goes on to develop their own business and prospers. My business partner and I stay in touch with a lot of people that have worked with us over the last 20 years.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing lettings at the moment?
The lack of new buy-to-let investment activity is definitely a challenge. National and local government seem to be actively deterring new entrants into the market. This isn’t good for tenants as it just means upward pressure on rental values. A healthy stock volume means the properties are priced sensibly and need to be kept in good condition to attract tenants.
What is your biggest property prediction for 2022?
Rental reform might not be introduced this year, given Covid, the current political turmoil, the cost-of-living crisis and other factors which look likely to delay the release of the White Paper further still. The government now looks likely to prioritise the Levelling Up White Paper, which could prevent rental reform from being towards the top of the agenda.
Before we get the White Paper, we won’t know the final iteration of the Renters’ Reform Bill, which must then go before Parliament and make it through both Houses before becoming law. We saw with the Tenants Fees Act how long it can take for a housing bill to get before parliament, so there’s no guarantee that 2022 will be the year where the government’s long-awaited and much-discussed rental reform agenda is finally implemented.
Trendy roof terrace or traditional English garden?
I like what both have to offer but if I had to choose right now, I’m more into a traditional English garden. It must be an age thing!
Would you rather be a free-moving tenant or settled owner-occupier?
I have enjoyed being a free-moving tenant in the past and it definitely has its merits. However, I’m certainly now a settled and occupy.
What is your favourite room in your home?
I love my study. Having worked from home during Covid for a short time I made the space my own, its peaceful and pretty relaxing in there.
Homes under the Hammer or Location, Location, Location?
Location, Location, Location, of course, I’m a big fan of Kirstie and Phil!