The trade body says that there have been positive steps in the right direction to improve mental health in the property industry over recent years, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
Working patterns and practices, for instance, can be improved to help overcome this problem, the association argues.
Daniel Evans, chair of the AIIC and managing director of Home Inventories, explained: “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.”
Evans highlights the fact that agents and landlords 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 continued: “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.
“Finding time to see the team in person and arranging social events are ways of combatting this,” he said.
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.
“Being open about mental health and understanding how to deal with issues surrounding this is necessary to move the whole industry forward,” Evans says. “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,”