Horizon Lets Sheffield helps landlords manage tenants

Horizon Lets Director’s Alex Roley (left) and Chris Browne (right)Horizon Lets Director’s Alex Roley (left) and Chris Browne (right)
Horizon Lets Director’s Alex Roley (left) and Chris Browne (right)
As the Covid pandemic continues to disrupt almost every aspect of our lives, one innovative Sheffield lettings agent has been working around the clock to help tenants and landlords cope.

Horizon Lets was created with the aim of providing a different kind of lettings agent. They are unique in many ways, and this is visible by the fact they only employ landlords in their management team.

Built on partnerships

Horizon has had valuable partnerships from the beginning, none more so important than with their local charity partner Nomad Sheffield who receive a donation each time a landlord has been taken on. Additionally Horizon has supported the Military Covenant to assist Armed Forces personnel while also being committed to the Carbon Footprint Standard to do their part in reducing the harm to the environment. Further to this, Horizon assists landlords by working with an energy improvement contractor who improve the thermal efficiency of poorly insulated properties at no cost to the landlord through the government funded Energy Company Obligation scheme.

Virtually ready

When setting up the business it was designed from the outset to make the most of modern technology, and provide a fresh, more flexible and efficient service for both tenants and landlords, meaning the company found itself ideally placed to help its customers cope during the pandemic.

As high street businesses were forced to close doors and staff ordered to work from home, letting agents scrambled to adjust to the changes.

For Horizon Lets, however, many of the issues that caused disruption to traditional businesses had already been eliminated before they started. From the start Horizon wanted to be flexible and not have staff stuck behind a desk in a high street shop. As a result, all their team were already used to a remote working set-up, and being a paperless business utilising cloud-based software, the business was set up to accommodate the lockdown restrictions easily ensuring their service to landlords and tenants was unaffected.

Their online portal allows landlords and tenants to view documents such as contracts and inventories whenever needed, while their expertise with virtual viewings, which they utilised from their initial launch four years ago, meant they were able to easily walk prospective tenants through the process, especially during the last 12 month’s restrictions.

With a team on call 24/7 to handle any emergencies, and carefully vetted local tradesmen able to carry out any vital repair work in a swift and secure way, it has helped take much of the stress away from their landlords. In fact, as Horizon was founded by local landlords, Alex Roley and Chris Browne, the contractors employed by Horizon have actually worked with the team for nearly a decade!

Pandemic prepared

Director Chris Browne explained: “We set out to be a non-traditional letting agent, and it turns out we were well built to withstand a pandemic. We’ve always used Zoom meetings, always held our files securely online, always offered virtual viewings, always had our team working remotely and always done the operational work fully digitally, such as contracts with electronic signatures. This has meant we avoided a lot of overheads that a more traditional agent might have, and so we were able to pass those savings on to our landlords.

“It has also meant the pandemic has not affected our business model at all. It’s a time of great anxiety for people, so it’s important that we’ve been able to maintain constant contact with tenants and landlords.”

Despite the disruption of the pandemic, the property market across the UK has remained fairly steady with demand for rental property, both from landlords and tenants showing no let-up. Indeed, Director Alex Roley states: “Certainly for two or three bed houses around the outskirts of the city, we have broken through the rental ceiling in many areas as tenants look for more space and despite the economic uncertainty, sentiment is high from many landlords keen to grow their portfolio”

As an area with growing employment, strong fundamentals and good transport infrastructure, Sheffield has seen its market remain buoyant, and there is expected to be strong capital growth in the city over the coming years as investors turn to Sheffield for attractive rental yields and the likelihood of an increase in house prices.

At Horizon Lets they have worked hard to make the process of becoming a landlord as straightforward as possible, with a free consultancy service giving a valuation and in depth report on any potential property purchase.

Once a property has been onboarded, the team can start marketing the property using all traditional methods as well as through their own dedicated social media channels including using local community online forums, while a specialist service will provide a complete review of the suitability in a prospective tenant, helping to tackle fraud and ensure a good quality of tenant.

The future

And after helping their landlords come through the pandemic in good shape, where despite payment plans being created, no landlord with Horizon Lets has suffered financial loss as a result of the pandemic. In fact, Horizon are continuing to keep their managed properties one step ahead, with many of the policies they have had in place from the start to ensure best practice – such as energy efficiency improvements, mid-term inspections and insisting on an up-to-date electrical safety certificates for example – meaning their properties are future proofed already ahead of legislation changes that could present unexpected costs to other landlords.

To find out more about how Horizon Lets can help, visit their website or call 0333 557 2118 for a friendly chat with the team of local property experts.

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