Openrent snaffle - opinions please

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    Openrent snaffle - opinions please

    [Note: I am aware that we do not use this forum to criticise named companies under most circumstances. I am not doing that - Openrent is a generally good portal which I imagine is used by many landlords here and I am simply asking for opinions on one aspect of their procedure - which I think is fine to do here]

    a) They have two main types of listings for landlords - one where you are simply purchasing advertising on the main portals (Rightmove, Zoopla etc) and also get a fairly decent system for communicating with prospective tenants. Everything is up to you.

    b) More complex systems ("Rent-Now" etc - which allows tenants to directly pay holding depoists and has various bolt on things like tenancy agreements etc.)

    I always opt for the former.

    This current time round I have had plenty of applications but have not yet offered any viewings (most applicants excluded by initial questions, and I have a possible tenant obtained via another route). I have certainly not offered any of the Openrent applicants anything at all, and if I did would do so privately.

    However it appears that Openrent have been sending E-mails to those who applied to view (and whom I have so far informed they are on-hold), inviting them to click a button and pay a holding deposit. The message to them says that if the landlord does not proceed with a tenancy they will get their money back.

    I find this slightly disconcerting to say the least. It is also unfair to the tenants who are being offered something I would not be prepared to give, and they might be mis-led. I am not sure of the basis for such payment. It may not be legal either since they have no idea what other holding deposit I might have collected already, and I don't think it is currently legal to accept more than one holding deposit at the same time. I emailed them to ask where this money goes, why I am not asked (even though this is not something I subscribed to) and the response I got was:

    "We follow up on all tenant enquiries as a standard part of our service - to ensure leads are correctly converted.
    .. Before placing a holding deposit ... the applicant has to state that they have permission from the landlord to go ahead (would have thought they would ask me first).
    Please feel free to let the applicants know to ignore the email if you do not intend to continue with their application through Rent Now (I have not subscribed to Rent-Now as they full well know)."

    I followed up by asking:

    "I would be immensely concerned if it is even possible for an applicant to pay you money based on something the landlord has not initiated (whether or not they state they have permission from the landlord to go ahead) and based on something confusing you have sent out.... So please explain -- is it actually possible (based on what you say below) for a tenant to send you money ever where landlord has not initiated, and if they did so, where would this money go."

    No response.

    Any thoughts or experiences please?

    #2
    I've not used the 2nd option but the first, but the T's still have the option to "rent it now" even without my permission as I had this by one of the T's, so the option is available on both. I know I never received the money, partly due to the fact I never accepted the T. The other aspect is that once initiated the property is then no longer available to others, and if you have other prospective T's booked to view the property, I'm sure that they would get a message saying it's off the market or something along those lines, and losing a potentially better T.

    The other aspect is they have a max. of 3 months if you still haven't found anyone then you need to pay again.

    Comment


      #3
      For all these reasons and more, it seems totally out of order. What other routes are there to Rightmove and Zoopla right now?

      If a holding deposit is ever accepted it is because the LANDLORD is making the tenants an actual offer (of a tenancy, provided other information provided pans out) and is offering to withdraw from the market for the moment. Openrent cannot make such an offer. This defeats the entire point of a holding deposit (for both parties).

      If a tenant withdraws after paying a holding deposit then usually the HD would be forfeited. The same would surely apply to the landlord otherwise what possible reason would a tenant have to pay such a thing.

      Comment


        #4
        I tried them but now use other online agents less focused on the the tenant's needs (listed in the Landlordzone suppliers directory above).

        In today's market and playing field heavily tilted in the tenants favour, getting tenant enquiries isn't the problem for me.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by boletus View Post
          In today's market and playing field heavily tilted in the tenants favour, getting tenant enquiries isn't the problem for me.
          Yup - at least outside of London, hundreds of applicants, almost all turned down, and rents about 20%+ or more higher than a year ago (with some applicants offering way beyond the advertised price in desperation). I make a point of explaining who is responsible for this state of affairs.

          Comment


            #6
            Receiving more than one holding deposit isn't legal (Tenant Fees Act), so what's being done is definitely out of order.
            If the holding deposit is paid to Openrent, any holding deposit they receive after the first one is automatically a prohibited payment.
            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

            Comment


              #7
              From members dealings with this company, I certainly would not use them.

              If I was in the members position of usung Openrent, and they Accepted deposits without my agreement first, I would tell them in the strongest possible way ( And you know me, I can be brutal when circumstances demand ) That they are not my letting agent.and to cease and decist their illegal practices, and I will sue them for misrepresentation of pretending to be my agent, if they do not cease immediately.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                Receiving more than one holding deposit isn't legal (Tenant Fees Act), so what's being done is definitely out of order.
                If the holding deposit is paid to Openrent, any holding deposit they receive after the first one is automatically a prohibited payment.
                Indeed, and because they are not acting as any sort of exclusive agent, the first holding deposit they unilaterally accept is prohibited too, because I might well have already accepted a holding deposit myself (but not yet agreed to stop advertising).

                I received further "clarification" from Openrent in the meanwhile:

                "If a tenant places a holding deposit it is held as protected client funds, should the landlord not wish to proceed and a holding deposit is placed it can be cancelled very simply and this immediately triggers a refund."

                Well bloody hell - apart from anything else if a holding deposit is not returned for any legitimate reason at all - the money would be MINE, so why would it be in the client account of somebody else (not a client account held for me as the client).

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                  Indeed, and because they are not acting as any sort of exclusive agent, the first holding deposit they unilaterally accept is prohibited too, because I might well have already accepted a holding deposit myself (but not yet agreed to stop advertising).
                  Yep.
                  "If a tenant places a holding deposit it is held as protected client funds, should the landlord not wish to proceed and a holding deposit is placed it can be cancelled very simply and this immediately triggers a refund."

                  Well bloody hell - apart from anything else if a holding deposit is not returned for any legitimate reason at all - the money would be MINE, so why would it be in the client account of somebody else (not a client account held for me as the client).
                  On the other hand, if they collect it and hold it, even on your behalf, they're probably committing the offence, not you.

                  Given that lots of landlords don't know what they're meant to do, I'd imagine that there are a lot of landlords not returning holding deposits and lots of prospective tenants thinking they've secured properties that they haven't.
                  Which is pretty much exactly what that part of the legislation is trying to prevent.

                  When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                  Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I've used OpenRent, but not needed to in the last 2 years.

                    From what I remember, when the tenant clicks the 'Rent Now' button, the Landlord has to accept the request before anything else happens in the process.

                    Unless my memory is wrong or things have changed ...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Beswick,

                      Well now you can apparently. Their only response was "Tenants can place a holding deposit although are only encouraged to do so where the landlord has asked them." - and this is even if the Rent-Now arrangement is not even entered into by the landlord (though why anyone would want to use "Rent-Now" (let's just accept a random tenant who happens to click a button) - beats me)

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Openrent will do what they like regardless of what you think. Every time I place an ad I ask them how I can opt out of advertising on gumtree. I get a sympathetic reply but nothing ever happens. My nearest gumtree city is miles away so I get many, many requests from people who have no idea where the property is. This last month is the only time someone I hadn't contacted placed a holding deposit, I rejected the T because of it and presumably they got their money back - hadn't realised it might actually have been ORs fault not theirs. The other thing I find annoying is that they suggest to Ts rent now will be used. I won't use rent now because although you can add to the ast you can't remove anything from it (though I forget what I objected to now).
                        As far as I know there isn't an alternative that will get the property on rightmove etc for a similar price. If anyone knows of onr please tell me.

                        Comment

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