Coronavirus is still front and centre in many conversations at home or at work, and Jason has shared his thoughts and views on where he is at with it all and how Eastbank continues to work with their tenants to provide the best possible service during these uncertain times.
Here, Eastbank CEO, Jason Arden talks us through how the business has had to adapt to the ‘new normal’.
What impact has Coronavirus had on your business and, have you made many changes to the way you operate?
It has been a strange time for everyone. I’ve adjusted to it and as I always do, I try to make the best of any situation and always look for even the smallest hint of light in the darkness.
Oddly, I’ve enjoyed the peace and solitude that lockdown has forced me to surrender to. It has given me more time to reflect on what matters. Some days, I’ve looked to the sky and thought to myself “how often do I need to travel?” I’ve managed to conduct everything by phone or by video call, keeping the lines of communication open.
Do we really need to fly to other cities for a meeting?
Hopefully, we will all do more of these Zoom calls and video conferences which will help in some way to cutting down pollution and the impact that has on the planet.
As for Eastbank, despite being hit by several issues, we’ve rolled our sleeves up and our business has adapted well.
Some of our builders are overseas workers who had to go home when the lockdown was introduced. Several manufacturers have also closed temporarily, which is causing a shortage of some materials.
We’ve also had to work around how emergency repairs can be carried out under social distancing and safety guidelines. With extra care, attention and stricter hygiene, we’ve managed to work around it successfully.
How have you helped your team during this?
We’ve had to be even more mindful of our staff and we’ve really looked out for them as a company. The staff have adapted well but, some have perhaps struggled with anxiety. We all support each other and hold each other up when it’s needed. True team spirit and genuine affection for one another is getting us through for now.
There are some media reports of the property market slowing down. How is it for rentals?
Lettings have been busy. People have been stuck together for over three months which has caused unexpected splits among couples and families. It has also forced people to look at their current living arrangements and whether they want somewhere bigger or smaller to live.
We are in a very fortunate position. Our average rental price is around £1300 per month which, is reasonable for London. The relationship between the team at Eastbank and our tenants is second to none and, one of our key practices is to work in tandem with everyone involved to reach a satisfactory conclusion. If you do the right thing by people, it will always come back to you.
Are you offering any additional support to your tenants?
Some tenants have been furloughed and needed guidance on what benefits to claim. We’ve made ourselves available to let them talk through any problems or financial difficulties they might be facing. We will always work with them to find solutions. Our MD, Michelle Goldstein, has also offered to be available personally to talk to tenants, especially any key workers and we’ve asked them to let us know if they need any additional support or assistance.
Looking ahead, what plans do you have for future developments and do you have any wish list areas in mind?
While we remain open to new projects and, we always keep an eye on the market, we’re sitting tight for now and proceeding with caution until the current uncertainty and upheaval pass. Maybe not this week, or next month but we will get through it. Today, we need to be mindful of people’s needs and what we can do for them now.
We have always said we can operate and provide housing at any time, in all weathers and every circumstance. We never expected a global pandemic. I hope when everything settles, businesses and governments can make substantial and social changes to start the healing process. We want to be right there with them.