PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: Shoosmiths rebrands to Swiitch but why? | Renters Reform Bill – tenants may be reluctant to access new rights

Andrew Stanton’s daily proptech & property news in association with Estate Agent Networking

Shoosmiths solicitors have rebranded to Swiitch to freshen up the brand, a move unveiled by Suman Dally head of conveyancing.

Speaking as a person who has known Shoosmiths and dealt with them for many years in estate agency conveyancing and as a private client I am unsure why this move has been taken. I know we live in the wold of Pwc (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and EY (Ernest & Young) but Swiitch, what does that even mean or convey?

In my day job, growing property technology companies, and it is no different to growing anything Brand is everything. For example when the Connells Group acquired the assets of Countrywide, did they rebrand no. When Charles Dunstone acquired Purplebricks did he rebrand no. So why in the name of God ruin a multi-million brand. And on that whoever sold the idea of using Swiitch to Shoosmiths maybe should have taken 30-seconds to look who was using the brand already.

Shoosmiths may have trade marked the name, but someone else has already done so too – monplanswiitch which has trademarked the term swiitch though it does have the second i upside down.

There is a swiitch App, which sells second hand mobiles, then there is The Swiitch Ltd who does hairdressing, and the Switchchangeagency – digital marketing, the list goes on and many have websites – you guessed it Swiitch.

So the question is how swiitched on is Suman Dally, how much did the rebranding company charge – laughing all the way to the bank, and why consign a solid and known brand to the bin out of hubris. And will Swiitch be contacting some of these companies for copyright infringement … you could not make this up. No doubt hundreds of thousands will be wasted in the rebrand and cost of the ‘experts’ who put this great idea together.

Renters Reform Bill | Research suggests tenants may be reluctant to access new rights

Results from a survey with over 2,000 tenants suggests that affordability pressures and supply shortages may prevent tenants from using their new legal rights under Rental Reform Bill.

New data released today shows that almost one-in-three tenants are finding it difficult to meet rental payments and over half are cutting down on household essentials to pay the rent. Affordability pressures are increasing; almost half of all tenants who moved into a rental property in the past six months said they are finding it difficult to afford the monthly rent.

The second wave of the TDS Charitable Foundation study carried out in March/April 2023 with a representative sample of over 2,000 tenants, illustrates how the growing mismatch between supply and demand is making it increasingly difficult to find a rental home. 68% of tenants who moved into a privately rented property in the past six months said it was difficult to find a suitable property, compared to 51% of all tenants.

In a significant overhaul of housing law, the Renters Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023. It contains several new legal rights for tenants including the right to request permission to keep a pet. Tenants will be able to raise complaints with the new Private Rented Sector Landlord Ombudsman and look on the new Property Portal for details about rental properties. The Government hopes the removal of Section 21 will empower tenants and help them to assert these new rights.

However, findings from the survey shows that the shortage of accommodation and affordability pressures influences tenants’ willingness to pursue the legal rights that already exist. Whilst most tenants said they initially reported problems with their tenancy to their landlord or letting agent (87%), very few raised a complaint with the local authority or other legal body if they were still unhappy with the response (23%). Concerns about being asked to leave, difficulties finding another suitable property, and wanting to be seen as a good tenant were the main reasons why tenants failed to escalate their complaints.    

The data also shows that many tenants are reluctant to make requests that might improve their renting experience, such as asking for energy efficiency upgrades.  44% of tenants said they struggled to afford their utility bills in February/March 2023, and many believed that the energy efficiency of their property could be improved (47%). However, the majority had not requested improvements, again due to fears of jeopardising their tenancy (61%).

The data shows that certain groups of tenants are facing particularly acute affordability pressures including families and households in receipt of benefits.  

The affordability of rental accommodation is, however, largely absent from the UK Government’s plans for reforming the sector. The House of Commons Select Committee which reviewed the Government’s plans for reforming the sector in February 2023, concluded that “Only a significant increase in housing, particularly affordable housing, will ultimately tackle the rocketing costs of renting for many tenants”. The findings of this research suggest that without proper consideration given to affordability concerns and supply pressures, there is a risk that tenants will be unable and unwilling to access their new rights.

Quote from CEO, Steve Harriott: TDS has welcomed the introduction of the Bill as a way of raising standards in the housing sector. The research published today by the TDS Charitable Foundation suggests that the removal of Section 21 No-Fault evictions may not in itself be enough to give tenants greater confidence to complain about poor conditions to their landlord or the new Ombudsman.  Over the coming months we will want to explore these issues in more detail so that we can help government come up with ways of increasing the confidence of tenants to approach landlords and others about issues affecting their tenancy

Proptech and Property News in association with Estate Agent Networking.

Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.

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