By Digital Innovation September 2021
Interview by Digital Innovation for the September 2021 magazine. Written by Anna McMahon. Produced by Danielle Harris.
Richard Jackson, CEO at Alphaletz, launched his pioneering app for property landlords two years ago. Having filled a real gap in the market, we find out more about the exciting future developments Richard has in the pipeline.
Alphaletz is a cloud-based and mobile app for busy residential landlords, born out of the frustration of its CEO and founder, Richard Jackson, in finding a suitable software package to manage his property portfolio.
He explains, “I founded the company about two years ago. I did it because I was looking for a product on the market to cater for my needs as a landlord, but I could not find the right one. I started the prototype about three or four years before we launched the company, so it has been in development for many years now.”
Comprising an online desktop product alongside the user friendly mobile app, Richard received great praise for his product from likeminded property landlords. In the two years since its launch, Alphaletz’s customer base has grown considerably, largely consisting of residential landlords with multiple properties, one with as many as 200. He continues, “What we are finding is that people with one or two properties are dropping out of the market because being a landlord is hard work. In comparison, those who take it more seriously, with five or more properties to their name, are actually expanding their portfolio. That is our target market.”
The rental market has seen a lot of change in the last few years, including increased compliance and regulation, meaning many landlords find it difficult to remain compliant. The Alphaletz app aims to make life easier for its users, helping them to make sense of the latest legal requirements.
Richard says, “Keeping track of safety certificates and insurance records can be a challenge. Our system allows you to centralise all the important information. With all your documents in one place, you can see everything you might need at a glance.”
Another challenge for landlords lies in calculating their tax situation. In answer, Alphaletz provides detailed financial reports to make light work of the figures. Richard explains, “What you used to be able to do was offset your mortgage payment as a business expense, but new legislation came in and changed the rules. You can no longer offset the mortgage payment against the rental income, so the whole amount is now a taxable expense. That completely changed the landscape for many landlords.
For example, if you are a higher rate tax payer, you could in fact be making a significant loss. This is another reason why people love our app – we really help them to get their heads around the figures.”
So, would Richard recommend being a property landlord as a good investment in these uncertain times?
He answers, “Yes, as long as you know what you are doing. I believe the goal of the new regulation was to try and make it a more professional industry. Many landlords that are prospering are those who are turning their businesses into limited companies. For those who view it as a proper business rather than a hobby, it is still a great investment.”
With the housing shortage, property prices up 10 per cent, and rental demand increasing, the rental market is going from strength to strength. Richard adds, “What landlords needs is a really good system to run their property portfolio like a business. We provide the technology to help them to do so.”
So, what was the effect of the pandemic on the industry?
Richard answers, “Covid made everyone realise that they had to get their business online. We are cloud-based, so we already had an online presence, but it gave us the opportunity to rethink our business. Our view for the future is that we want to offer more products and services through the app, helping people do even more online. The technology is now there to do property viewings online with 3D video tours. That would be a massive time-saver. You can even check-in a tenant remotely – that kind of technology is coming.
“The first step is to get people using the platform, with access to their portfolio from any place, at any time. The beauty of cloud computing is that you never have to worry about back-ups or installing software on multiple devices. It’s just there, all centralised and available from anywhere and any device. We will continue to improve our capabilities to make it even easier to save time and drive down costs. We need more landlords in the market, and tenants want a better service, so our app is helping to solve this problem.”
The old way of working involved landlords using a mix of spreadsheets, calendar reminders, document-sharing software and accounting systems. Richard adds, “The problem is that these systems don’t talk to each other. What you really need is an instant answer. If a tenant calls with a leak, you need to know who to call there and then, and have immediate access to any insurance documents. Our system does that, with the information
synced up across your desktop and mobile, so you can access it whenever you need it. Mobile is huge. Everyone wants everything on their mobile
now. In the future, we want to provide the functionality to be able to pay bills and suppliers through the mobile app.”