Tenant selection and openrent experience
A few words on tenant selection and my experiences using OpenRent.
I very much like OpenRent and use them most of the time now.
It is fast and efficient, though just one thing bugs me about how they work.
I do not like the way they impose their tenants screening system, when they decide you have had too many enquiries. This involves them “standing in the way of the process” and having their system ask tenants a series of pre-qualifying questions, before they can pass the enquiry on to me, the landlord.
I am perfectly capable of screening out unsuitable tenants myself – and yes, I get back to everyone who enquires. Not to do so is plain rude.
The tenants’ screening system is actually quite clunky for the User to set up. I know this to be the case because as a good marketeer and operations guy, I always check the User-Customer experience.
My fear is that the potential customer looking for a place to rent will just not bother and will not enquire about my property at all, thus risking me missing out on good applicants.
What annoys me most is that OpenRent will not allow you to opt out and NOT have the tenancy screening questions on there. This does not seem very customer-centric to me.
Another odd thing is that OpenRent still allows us landlords to tick a box saying whether they “accept DSS”.
I thought that this was very much frowned upon, following Generation Rent and Shelter making an issue of this two years ago.
On this matter, I am with these renter’s groups. I think it is unfair too to just blanket ban people, just because some of their income happens to come via the benefit system.
What we say in our adverts is that someone’s income must be 2.35 times the rent. It does not matter to us what that income consists of or where it is from as long as it is legal – how much is from a job; how much is from benefits and how much is from investment income (though the latter is very rare for our applicants).
I can often accept less than 2.35 times the rent on the income side, if the applicant happens to have a lot of savings. (We check bank and other statements to validate this and do a credit check, with the applicant’s consent).
The issue for many people “on benefits” is that they often do not have the resources to pay a five-week deposit and the rent in advance, which would make me nervous.
Some will have access to help via Rent in Advance and Deposit schemes from the council and some will also be able to get the council to pay us a sign on (incentive) fee too.
But having had experience with a housing association and their slow set up of a 4-year guaranteed Rent scheme, I have always hesitated. I recall the set up was slow with much paperwork.
Usually, just as we are mulling over the paperwork involved in such schemes, a tenant comes along who can afford the rent from their own income – and with no need to go down the council assisted route.
Still, I would be interested to hear from people who have used these Rent In Advance and/or Deposit Assisted Schemes and who obtained incentives to let from the local authority. What was the experience like? I am aware that in some areas, if you do not let to a tenant who is fully or partly dependent on benefits, you may find yourself facing a long void.
The other send of the scale is where you get a very well-off applicant in a good, secure job who you just know will be moving on soon.
I had a good example recently. On our last let, one of the enquirers was a British medical consultant doctor who was moving to the area and who asked lots of questions about the quality of the local schools.
Now I know what these guys and ladies earn – and there was no way he would be staying in our little terrace house at just £1,200 a month for very long. He was likely to be using the time he was renting our place to look at the area with a view to buy a property for himself and his family. Nothing he said contradicted this.
Luckily, he did some more research and found the local schools were not to his liking. I was kind of glad he dropped out and that I was able to offer it to another family who would likely stay for a much longer time.
Yes, newsflash – we landlords like tenants to stay a long time and are not out to gouge as much rent as we can, preferring to keep annual rent rises to below inflation, so we get to keep our good tenants.
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