Mental health

Mental health in the property industry – why a lot more still needs to be done  

According to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), the property industry needs to do more to recognise and support those with mental health issues.

Having a firm understanding of the potential situations that increase the chances of someone’s mental health worsening can help avoid these from happening at all. Positive steps in the right direction have been made in recent years yet working patterns and practices can be improved to help overcome this problem, the association argues.

Industry factors impacting mental health

Daniel Evans, chair of the AIIC and managing director of Home Inventories, explains:

“The property industry does more hours than most and this can have a damaging impact on many people’s work and life balance. Better support systems in place can help avoid a mental health crisis, something which has been worsened during the pandemic with such a hugely busy market.

By implementing training in specific areas such as time management, we can help people better manage these obstacles. This will allow people in the industry to learn how to prioritise their workload in a way that does not seep into their personal lives or make their job stressful.”

In the property industry, landlords and letting agents often only get one chance to get their job right before potentially taking responsibility for what would have been a tenant liability. This, too, makes it high pressure compared to other industries.

Evans continues:

“On the other end of the spectrum, landlords and agents are not the only ones prone to experiencing mental health issues – tenants are, too.

In the property industry, large sums of money that take years to accumulate are dealt with and people’s homes are on the line. As a result, strong emotional responses from customers should be expected. These can sometimes be dangerous with aggressive tenants. Therefore, proper structures within individual businesses should be put in place, and companies that endorse high levels of professionalism should only be used.”

Speaking to people regularly and asking if they need support is necessary to prevent these issues from causing mental health problems, Evans added that “finding time to see the team in person and arranging social events are ways of combatting this”.

Ongoing impact due to pandemic

In 2017, mental health charity Mind reported that one in six people in England experiences a mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) during a typical week. Since then, the pandemic has occurred and sparked an increase in people dealing with these issues.

Inventory clerks commonly work alone, sometimes in uncomfortable conditions such as carrying out work in a property that is dark or in a desolate place. The pandemic has heightened this as inventory clerks have been working through lockdown and beyond, with their work deemed to be essential to the continued running of the lettings sector.

For female inventory clerks, there is a heightened level of fear because of horrific cases, such as Suzy Lamplugh, of women who work in the property industry going missing while simply doing their job.

Furthermore, the ongoing impact of the pandemic continues to put further financial pressure on various businesses in the property industry. It has resulted in a vast reduction in appointments and clients while the popularity in suburban rural areas has resulted in stock shortages. Evans said:

“Being open about mental health and understanding how to deal with issues surrounding this is necessary to move the whole industry forward. Charities like Agents Together have done an excellent job of highlighting the issues and offering support, but we still need to go further.

When you work in the property industry you not only represent the business, but you represent the industry. With this on the line, the service these workers provide is often scrutinised, since first impressions are everything.

At the AIIC, we understand the issues that could happen, so through our continuous development and member support, we aim to make the experience better for workers as well as tenants.”

Inventories are important documents that can prevent the number of deposit disputes between the landlord and tenant. Therefore, they can help reduce the issues that trigger mental health problems in the industry.

More information regarding the AIIC and courses dedicated to established and inexperienced inventory professionals can be found online here.

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