Covid-19’s impact on the world has been seismic. Closer to home, the UK is facing its worst recession in decades if not centuries, and recently the government’s debt exceeded the size of the economy for the first time in more than half a century.
But the crisis could have been so much worse without technology.
How we have kept working during lockdown is a great example. It’s hard to think about how we would have dealt with Covid-19 if we’d had to rely on the technology available even just two decades ago.
Without the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype, the “great work-from-home experiment” that we’ve all embarked upon would have likely been disastrous.
But we are still failing to use technology to help solve other facets of this crisis.
For example, the government has had the better part of half a year to figure out a longer-term strategy, but there is very little action being taken to use today’s tools to sort the gathering rent arrears crisis.
230,000 people have already fallen behind on their rent, research by Shelter shows, and that is only going to get worse as the real economic impact of the pandemic increases.
Not only will this cause stress for tenants, but it will also pile pressure on many buy-to-let landlords who rely on rental income to meet their own debt obligations, including their mortgages.
As things stand, once the eviction ban ends on 20 September, there will potentially be a huge disruption in the rental market that will impact many. Tenants and landlords alike are stressed — face-to-face dialogue with a tenant might not even be possible if he or she is self-isolating, so the threat of a breakdown in communication while negotiating a repayment plan is very real.
But if the lockdown has taught us anything, it is that technology can be used to resolve just about any problem that could be resolved in person — and perhaps even do a better job.
At flatfair, our team of coders and payment technology experts worked round the clock during the first weeks of the pandemic to launch Resolve, a new online portal which enables landlords of any size to agree on a payment plan for any rent arrears accrued due to Covid-19 with their tenants.
Resolve provides landlords with a tool to assist them in obtaining evidence of hardship, provides date-stamped correspondence, and helps them to agree on a clear repayment plan which the tenant must adhere to.
The prop-tech market is a saturated one, so it is easy for traditional landlords to be put off engaging with genuinely helpful tools such as Resolve, or flatfair’s newest product, Boost, which provides landlords with up to six weeks of additional damage protection for just 1.5 per cent of the monthly rental value.
But when complicated and stressful processes — like landlord and tenant relations — are broken down into easily digestible and transparent plans of action, goals suddenly seem much more achievable.
Technology, ultimately, is about streamlining our lives, and works at its best when it is solving age-old, and new, problems.
Main image credit: Getty