Who are you?
Arthur Jones, I’m Glide’s London Business Development Manager. I joined Glide in November 2016 to head up London. My priority since joining has been to grow our market share and brand awareness within the Capital.
Can you remind us about Glide and what you bring to the market?
Glide was set up in 2006 as the first company in the UK to deliver complete utility packages to landlords and letting agents of shared households, providing them with one single bill to cover all utilities across their entire portfolio, making it easy for them to offer all-inclusive rates to their tenants.
Our mantra is Hate Bills, Love Glide. We exist to take the pain and stress out of utility bills, so our customers can offer their tenants what they want, while having more time to do the things they enjoy.
We’ve heard that you’ve just made your first acquisition, can you tell us more?
Yes. We’ve recently acquired Huru, a multi-tenant billing start up based in London. Our business boasts year-on-year growth, yet we believe we only service around 10% of the total available market. Acquiring Huru has given us a physical presence in the capital for the first time, as well as a team of experienced staff with extensive knowledge of this competitive market. We’re proud that we’ve retained all of Huru’s staff, as a result of the acquisition, and welcomed them into the Glide family.
Why is it important to have a base in London?
It’s thought that 40% of the UK’s HMOs are based in London, which presents a huge opportunity for multi-tenant billing solutions. London operates very differently to the rest of the UK and we felt it was time to have an office with a dedicated team in the capital. Having a base in London gives us a huge opportunity to expand further - something we’re both ready and hungry for.
How will the acquisition benefit landlords and tenants?
We know from previous research that tenants living in shared accommodation predominately want a rent package that includes utilities. Glide offers a number of packages to landlords and to tenants to do just that. Risk Free Bills from Glide, for example, allow landlords to offer their tenants inclusive rates, which are not only extremely appealing to tenants, they also offer protection to landlords from over usage. The acquisition, allows Glide to offer these packages to landlords and tenants in London, with a dedicated local support team.
What are the current challenges for HMO landlords?
The big challenge in 2018 will be when the new licensing rules come into fruition for HMOs. Whereas previously mandatory HMO licensing has applied to around 60,000 properties, the new rules will affect around 175,000 properties across the UK. While these changes have been largely anticipated, it is still likely to come as a surprise to many landlords, and will almost certainly require them to do some work in their properties to make them comply. Of course, the upside of the new licensing is the overall change of the HMO landscape in general. While in the past HMOs may have been seen as ‘lower end’ accommodation, the rapid change of the UK rent culture has seen more and more young professionals seeking HMOs for financial and social reasons. This, coupled with the new tougher licensing will ultimately bring up the standard of accommodation overall and help put an end to any out dated views of HMO landlords.
How can Glide support HMO landlords?
Tenants expect more from their shared accommodation than ever before. Glide can support this, by offering no fuss, straight forward billing solutions to attract the best tenants.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Without doubt the most satisfying part of my job is helping landlords and property businesses save time and money on utilities.
To an onlooker, it may be difficult to comprehend just how much time is involved with managing utilities across a portfolio of rental properties. It’s unfortunately no small task. So having the pleasure of working for a company that lives and breathes its values by doing everything to streamline this, is genuinely fulfilling.
Unfortunately due to the competiveness and negative stigma within the industry, delivering this message has been a challenge at times. However, with Glide innovatively leading the way I am confident much of the London market will become our partners for life.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing landlords in general?
The number of UK households in privately rented properties is set to rise significantly to almost a quarter over the next five years. Soaring house prices are impacting home ownership, which is naturally increasing the number of tenants in the UK. More and more people will be looking for long-term tenancies, as opposed to stop gaps. With this comes a more challenging set of demands and landlords will need to work hard to keep attracting the best tenants to their properties.
What is your property prediction for 2018?
With 2018 poised to be an underwhelming year in the property industry as a whole, my prediction is there will certainly be challenges for many ahead.
House price growth looks set to judder to a halt, or at best, manage a small below-inflation rise, but perhaps the biggest cloud hovering over the property market next year is Brexit, and what it could mean for people’s personal finances and the wider economy.
Continuing economic and political uncertainty in the run-up to 2019, plus the possibility of further interest rate rises following November’s base-rate hike from 0.25% to 0.5%, falling real wages, weak consumer confidence and mortgage affordability issues, could all act as a brake on the market.