Podcast | RESIcast Osborne Clarke And Greystar Discuss BTR Operations During Covid19

Written on 27 Oct 2020

Osborne Clarke Associate Directors, Matthew Kyle and Rebecca Francis, spoke with Todd Marler, the senior director of operations at Greystar, on a podcast hosted by Blackstock Consulting founder Andrew Teacher, in the lead up to the 2020 RESI Conference. You can listen to this and others in the RESICast series here.

The pandemic has proven, without doubt, the business case for Build-to-Rent (BTR), a panel of experts told Property Week in the latest RESIcast.

Todd Marler, the senior director of operations at Greystar, said rapid growth in the number of people working from home has “heightened” the need for high-quality living space.

“One of the things we realised quickly was it’s not just about what we’re doing as an operator but also about how we are partnering with our residents to ensure the entire community is being safe.”

Communication is key, said Marler, in generating a genuine sense of community and helping residents “feel part of the action plan”.

Being communicative, flexible and understanding with tenants also helps mitigate against complaints and compensation demands from tenants, according to our Associate Director, Rebecca Francis.

She said: “I think the difficulty comes when you’re in a sort of quasi-environment when an operator may decide that certain amenity spaces are just too difficult to keep Covid-secure.

“Whether that would be objectively [perceived] or not might be the question, and even though your tenancy might be reasonably robust to prevent people saying ‘I shouldn’t be paying as much rent’, your risk then is more on a consumer law level, rather than pure landlord-and-tenant.

“But I think that is again, coming full-circle, going to be about communication, everyone feeling like they are working together in this fight to defeat [coronavirus].”

But while Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of virtual viewings and other technologies, our Associate Director, Matthew Kyle, cautioned that more scrutiny will be placed on new tech as it emerges.

“The bar has raised slightly in terms of both resident expectations but also in terms of what’s perhaps reasonably practical for you to do with these technologies,” Kyle added.

“To avoid that exposure is going to be quite critical.”

The pandemic looks set to accelerate some of the findings of our thought leadership piece "Transforming the way we live - A roadmap for taking Alternative Residential mainstream", which was published earlier this year and is based on interviews of real estate industry experts.

Read the full on Property Week.