100 limit on tenant enquiries

Hi,

I have recently advertised my property on Open Rent. It has been advertised for 4 weeks. I have had numerous enquiries from people who I know will not pass the rent check criteria from Rentguard, a service promoted by Openrent. As they are unsuitable I have had to turn many of them away. Openrent are saying they are going to pause the advert when I get to 100 enquiries.

I am not happy with this policy. Openrent should be aware there is a housing problem and people are desperate and will apply anywhere. This is not the Landlords fault and on the contrary, it is in the interest of landlords to take a tenant to occupy their house as soon as possible. Openrent have to understand there are laws that limit who a landlord can rent to and that there will be many bogus applications.

I have used Openrents services for a number of years, from when it first started and have loved the service. It was a revelation. I am now finding I am spending a lot of time, working hard sifting through lots of unsuitable applications, replying to all applicants, doing all the footwork showing tenants around, taking all the risk, doing the right thing and then to be told by Openrent the advert will be paused. I am wondering whether I would be better to go to a local letting agent who will do all that for me and wont stop the advertising. I am disappointed. I would like to ask Openrent to work with landlords, take away this clause, (plus open up the phone lines) otherwise you may find your landlords leaving you.

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100 is very limited. Worst case scenario costs you another £29 to place a new ad.

A lot less hassle than using a letting agent.

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If you are receiving over 100 enquiries, perhaps your rent is set too low for the location/condition etc of the property? Consider setting it higher, and also check that you are using the automated screening questions. I agree that the 100 limit should be reviewed by Openrent but as Mark said, even if you had to pay the ad fee again, it’s still much cheaper and less hassle compared to using a letting agent. Best of luck.

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Hi Mita,

I researched the market before setting the rent and my rent is reasonable for the area. It is not the rent that is the problem its the number of people looking for accomodation that do not fit in with the criteria set by Rentguard, Openrents affliated tenancy check company.

I am geting many people from abroad without a track record of renting, credit rating, low paid work, (would have to reduce the rent if was going to have them as tenants) temporary contracts. Does not fit with Rentguards criteria.

80% of my enquiries have been living in UK for less than 1 year – It would be intersting to see view from other landlords how they manage this and be reassured they keep their risk low.

Hi Mark,

Unfortuately if I am spending a lot of my time sifting through unsuitable tenants then it does not become ‘cheap’ – you have to value your time.

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As previously said I believe if you are getting that many then maybe could could beef up your screening questions?

I now have an auto responder that asks 20 questions. It used to be about 5. This now keeps things easily manageable.

Your auto responder could actually say “please ensure you meet the below criteria before replying”, and then list your requirements.

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I have just let out two properties in the last week in London. I agree there is a lot more demand than previously but I have not reached anywhere near the 100 limit, and much of this is due to having my screening questionnaire set up which asks a lot of the key questions up front. It also helps in deterring enquiries that are not serious.

Rentguard are not involved at this stage of the process, so they and their criteria are not relevant for this issue. As Mark mentioned, you need to beef up your questions when screening, and state your requirements in the advert.

Thanks Mark.

I had about 6 questions but I have created a template with about 12 questions that I copy and paste in to enquirers as I have got a bit fed up of ‘wishy washy’ answers from tenants .

Are you able to share your questions?

Thank you Mita.

Would you be able to share the questions?

And do you rent out to people that have only recently come into the UK ,with very little track records of renting /working?

Sure, the questions are just the standard pre-screening questions that Openrent have. These are:
Tenant Viewing Availability:
Proposed Move In Date:
Furnishing Requirements:
Minimum Tenancy:
Is the tenant a student?
Is the tenant receiving housing benefits?
Does the tenant have a pet?
Is the tenant a smoker?
Combined monthly income of all applicants:

In addition to these, I also ask for total number of tenants, and to confirm if they are in full time permanent employment.

While these screening questions do not prevent people who don’t meet your criteria from enquiring, it is usually enough to put off “casual” enquiries as they need to answer all these questions before they can even get in touch with you. I found that it’s relatively quick and easy to “sift” through these applicants as you have a lot of the info readily available. In my example, out of about 25 enquiries in 2 days, I short-listed less than 5 applicants for a viewing. It is in the applicant’s interest to be responsive to my questions otherwise they simply don’t get a viewing.

Wrt to your second question - I generally do not rent to people who are recent arrivals, only because they don’t have a credit history in the UK, and will automatically fail referencing by Rentguard. I have made exceptions in the past, but only if the tenants could provide proof of employment, salary and savings, and if possible, a UK based guarantor. In this situation, I would have to do the referencing myself. This was generally when the rental market was more difficult for landlords. With the current market conditions and demand levels, you should, in theory, find tenants who meet your criteria. I would rather wait for a good tenant and risk a void period than rush and get a problematic tenant…

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Maybe take 6 to 12 months rent, look at income (bank statements) and if self employed look at their accounts. There are many reasons why credit reports are not good, for me I have no debt so my score is rubbish, there’s an irony in that ! Also living in a domestic vile situation where the partner had taken loans in my name without my knowledge until the the people came to the house asking for payment, which of course I paid but by then it was too late the damage had been done, this is out of some peoples control. I’m sure if you ask for all of the above you will get someone honest and reliable, not everyone is a low life

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same with me I owe no money so have a low credit score No cedit cards . Always pay cash . Ironic or what

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I recently was obliged to pay for OR to “credit check” two applicants who have been abroad for 8 years. Of course they " failed" because the check ignores all non UK info. They were not able to give a previous landlord because that went back more than 3 years. But the system makes it difficult to avoid wasting £40.
Another problem is the net 3 times rent criteria. Any rent over £1000 suggests a surplus income " needed" of over £2000, which is plenty even today.
Many potential tenants use OR because they have a chance of being screened by a person and not a formula tha may well be inappropriate.

The problem is it is very hard to find the 100 applications limit before you advertise with open rent .
THE FAQ you are referred to if you search pricing simply says
“We will advertise your property until let. That’s usually within 4 days (on average). We do have a fair usage policy, but it is incredibly rare indeed for a landlord to fail to find a suitable tenant with us.”

It gives no clue as to what this fair useage policy is - really speaking the advert should say "covers you for up to 100 applications after which you must renew.
~

Hi previously I have paused the advert myself ond I had 3 or 4 prople I was interested in renting to. Have you checked the website for this feature? I used it as recently as November.
Julia

You need to be very careful because by law people need “Right To Rent”. Many people from abroad won’t have that. &it’s actually illegal to rent to people who don’t pass.

I have a very serious list of questions. I give them the formula that they have to do in order to find out if they can actually afford the rent.

I let them know upfront that I won’t engage any further if it’s clear they won’t pass credit checks.

I then ask for proof of income & their ID prior to going through credit checks. As I’m a member of the ICO I pass on my certification which proves that I can hold data.

I’ve had to be so strict because people are so desperate & will do anything to get accommodation. It is a very scary situation for people renting I understand. But I also need to protect myself.

The other night I was out with a really good friend and his son actually told me that his girlfriend forged their bank statements in order to get a flat. He thought he could tell me that because his dad was a good friend. He claimed they had the money to pay the rent & they would never not pay it but they just weren’t passing the credit checks. They were going through an estate agent & it got passed with forged documents! this is a really really nice guy, he was just desperate to get a flat.

I check absolutely everything that Rentguard does. I asked them to send me copies of everything & I go through them all & if I need anything else I ask them to request it & if they refuse I’ll request it myself.

I had a tenant who completely lied about his income to Rentguard & Rentguard didn’t question it one single bit. Even when I pressure them. This was a guy who claimed he had his own business, which he did, along with his mate he claimed that he earns £25,000 “full time employed” “salary” a year. When I went on companies House, I could see that there was one payment of £25,000 into the account which was some kind of start-up loan. And there was no evidence of this guy ever getting paid a salary. But Rentguard claimed that they looked at his last three months & he had had large payments paid to him. I Asked them where these payments came from and they couldn’t answer me. I told them that money could come from anywhere that it could be his mother sending & payments for all I know. People are really savvy. Rentguard is totally useless & you must check everything. Igot rid of him within eight months because he was such a liar & such a very difficult person. He left without paying his final months rent.To date I check his income With his company & There is next to nothing going in. he claims he is a marine biologist which is another lie, & he has no income hardly at all. He’s one of those big talkers, completely full of himself. He used the last month rent to put a deposit down on a property that He bought along w a Covid business loan. How on earth he & his girlfriend afforded it I have no idea. I’m pretty certain that it’s a buy to let & they’re just living in it. now all of his unpaid loan statements still come to the flat & he has refused despite my many attempts to get him to change his address. I’m pretty sure there was a Bailiff letter recently. Sorry for the rant on that but Point is that we have to be extremely extremely extremely careful about our vetting of tenants. My gut instinct when I was going through the process w this tenant was that it was not a good idea, but Rentguard passed it & I had insurance, so I just went w it because I was under a lot of pressure. I never ever should I do my gut feeling was right. Huge mistake.

People lie a lot when applying for a flat rent. I’m really lucky at the moment I have really lovely tenants.

I want to get out of this whole business. I think I’m going to sell everything, I only have a few flats. But it’s really been scary the last three years. I’ve had tenants try every trick in the book, people I thought were really nice and honest during Covid became unbelievably ruthless. These are people that did not come from a background where they had no money and they had a guarantor & went to schools like Eton!! They earned eight times what I earn I’m asking for a third of the rent for no reason at all.

I’d say make a very clear list of what you want. It’s so tricky because I don’t allow animals because of the disrepair it’s caused in the past & My contract with the freeholder doesn’t allow pets anyway, and my flats are really really done up to a very high standard. I do ask if they’ve got a pet.

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Your rules, your way, this is the best way!

I agree rent guard is useless. I use other companies now and call employers myself on top of.

Tenants will try anything to get the property, it’s amazing how much butter wouldn’t melt.

The big confident loud talkers have always turned out to be full of it, in my experience.

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I’m new to renting, any chance u would share the sort of questions to ask

Hi,

My house is a 3 bedroom in Leicester.

Absolutely Mark, the price should be cost per 100 enquiries if that is what they actually the way it works.

I think Openrent says you can advertise for 3 months, so contractually they have to stick to that.
Prcing is very mis leading.