5 Jun 2020

'Lockdown' - Week 11 - from our Landlord Liaison Officer

We chat to Neil about how his job has changed during Lockdown

I’m the landlord liaison officer for SmartMove. Normally that means I source safe and secure accommodation for our clients through our network of private landlords. I then negotiate the rent and the bond before putting the bond in place. I do a property inspection and inventory before clients move in, and then do the same if and when they move out. I also make sure properties comply with all safety regulations.

Things have definitely changed a lot. Work slowed down substantially for the first couple of weeks. It’s picked back up again now but it’s difficult because you’re on the phone all the time at home. To house someone now takes about a week of constant back and forth phone calls and I’m obviously not able to get out to do property inspections anymore. It would normally take a couple of days to house someone so that’s been quite a frustrating process. Landlords have been great because they want someone in so they’re going over and above to make sure the property is right for the client.

The clients have been really good and understanding about the situation. We haven’t had anybody who was street homeless, they’re all sofa surfing now so that bigger sense of urgency isn’t there. Even though things are taking a lot longer than they normally would, the clients have been really patient. Nobody’s in a huge rush to move so that takes the pressure off a bit.

I also work nights looking after adults with mental health and learning difficulties who live in supported living accommodation. They’re all highly vulnerable so they haven’t been out for 12 weeks now. They’re starting to get a bid fed up but they’re coping really well.

I don’t like working from home at all. I have a terrible reception so I have to put my mobile by the door to get a signal and given that all my work is being done over the phone at the minute that’s been challenging to say the least! It all just feels really frustrating as well, things that would normally take no time at all are being dragged out because everything has to be done remotely. Ours are not home-based jobs; we need to be out and about interacting with clients so we’re just doing the best we can really.

I’m really missing going to the gym which I normally do in a morning after a night shift. I’ve been exercising at home but it’s hard to get motivated because home is where you relax and it’s hard to separate that from working or exercising. We’ll just get on with it though. I really hope people stick to the guidelines so it doesn’t drag on any longer than necessary.