Applicant paid holding deposit, bypassed screening questions

An applicant has paid one week holding deposit by activating Rent Now. The application does not show the answers to the OpenRent standard questions (proposed move in date, does the tenant have a pet, is the tenant a smoker, does the tenant receive housing benefit, combined income of all tenants, etc), nor the responses to our own screening questions. Now I have to send her a message to ask them the questions that every applicant should have been presented with before they can make a viewing request.

Have I missed something?

I am confused
If there is no viewing there should be no holding deposit
Refund the monies if that’s the case
Holding deposit is after the viewing only


It’s weird, this seems to be the other way around. I’ve asked the applicant to use the ‘Arrange Viewing’ button and they’ve got back to me to say, “I’ve tried to request a viewing but it won’t allow me to as I have already placed the deposit”. So I’ll have to set up the viewing with the applicant directly.

Did they pay the deposit of their own accord?

Either way I would refund the deposit as it not legal to take it before the viewing and it may create a quagmire of problems
Write to openrent and ask them to do it


Same thing happened to me. Paid holding deposit before viewing. I asked Open Rent to refund deposit so I could continue with planned viewings


maybe they are hiding something

My concern was more with the system as I understood that the initial screening questions would be mandatory in order to progress an application.

write to them

A lot if applicants either can’t be bothered to answer my bespoke screening questions or are aware they dont satisfy my requirements but are trying it on. Either way I dont want people like that. I do very few viewings as a good long telephone conversation with the potential tenant will eliminate 95% of them on various grounds as the liers just get so twisted up and panicky with my forensic questioning . I use a seperate SIM card so it’s a different number to my regular one for the initial screening and only give genuine candidates who get viewings my main number.


Maybe if u werent so shady urself then the people looking to move in ur place wudnt return the favour, ever thought that? Grilling people with forensic questions?? Using dodgy numbers to do so?? Not the actions of a decent landlord really is it tho? Don’t u think us tenants check up on landlords aswell or are u summat special lol?? Maybe think about that before u try treat tenants like they’re nothing next time ey as myself I look up everything about a future landlord before ill pay my hard earned out

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You would be right to check out everything about a potential Landlord as there are bad ones. Would you let someone have the keys to your house without checking them out thoroughly? I’ll give you two examples of what any sensible LL should do and that is properly checking the employment status and income of a prospective tenant. Them supplying a letter ( e mail usually) from an employer isn’t enough their best mate can write one of those but asking for the address of an employer plus phone number and landline to ring them soon eliminates potential liars. Another is a very simple request ie 6 months bank statements . Its no good someone producing a P60 ( even a genuine one not a forgery) when their outgoings exceeds their income. This is basic due diligence no different to what any decent letting would do. LLs start crying on forums about tenants behaviour as soon as they are have a tenancy agreement plus the keys and so control the property but its often because the LL has been seduced by a bit of cash upfront or is too highly leveraged and can’t service his debt. They then just cross their fingers and hope for the best. Regarding the business phone number , when you ring up a letting agent do you immediately ask for his/ her personal number especially when they don’t know you from Adam ? Of course not. All my tenants have my own personal number not my ‘business number’.


For all the Ladlords, Just so you are aware, speaking as a new tenant who is looking for a property for my family for the first time. The Open rent provides this routing to put holding deposit, stating that this way you can show that you are serious about the property and there is a chance that you can be selected first.

Open Rent allows you to put the holding deposit without asking those questions! Only message to Landlord is the option. Therefore please address this with open rent before you put your property on the market. It is very stressful and confusing for tenants with families who have very short time to find accommodation and therefore they are looking for some kind of assurance that is possible. Also please be more clear on date when you are ready to open your property for viewing VS when you want actual tenants to move in. Thanks


Dear OP, the same happened to me and I got superconfused. All you need to do is, check your phone, you must have received a text message from oprnrent regards this deposit, read that text all the way to the end , they tell you to click on not accepted. Once done , you have effectively undone the deposit sent. Hopecthis helps


This system of paying a holding deposit without discussing with the landlord first is hated by both tenants and landlords, but Openrent refuse to change it. I can only suggest using consumer power to make formal complaints and mention it on review websites.


say you cant accept deposit as you are going thru screening process just now . simples. perhaps you are overthinking it ?

I sent your post to open rent
This is their response

There is no obligation to use any of our services, and you are of course welcome to handle referencing, contracts, deposit protection and rent collection yourself.

A Rent Now button is present on all OpenRent listing pages, however tenants are instructed that they need permission of the Landlord to use that feature. When a potential tenant presses the Rent Now button, you are instantly notified by SMS and email and given the opportunity to either progress the application, or cancel it and refund the holding deposit immediately at no cost to either party.

If you require any further information, please let us know.

you can email your issues to

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get holding deposit sent back, before you then proceed in the manner YOU want

I asjed Open rent to remove the deposit button but they just said you can just return it. It seems a wasted exercise to me they should not make that available until the landlord says so.


I am basically from an IT background so mapping business processes into IT systems correctly is key.
Logically, a holding deposit should only be allowed by the Open Rent system for a prospective tenant, when a Landlord has initially established suitability of the prospective tenant and is prepared to move ahead with Referencing.

As I understand, the only logical purpose of the holding deposit is to ensure that during the waiting period (time taken for Referencing) there is some assurance for both parties i.e. that on one hand the Landlord, in accepting the holding deposit, is committing to hold the property for the specific person and will not rent to another person, perhaps if offered more rent or the landlord simply changes their mind and wishes to rent to a friend or relative and on the other hand the prospective tenant won’t just move onto another property and leave the Landlord out of pocket in paying for referencing (or waste Landlord’s time if he/she carries out the Reference checks themselves).

Holding onto any monies by any party, for any period, in any bank account does earn interest, however little and many littles add up to alot.

If Open Rent is encouraging people to put down a holding deposit straight away, quite a few may be doing that on each property, and all that adds up, plus it will be sometime before returns are made.

The real purpose of a holding deposit is lost.


Thanks for all your feedback and input. I rejected the deposit and the tenant used Arrange Viewing. My concern initially was that it would even be possible for an applicant to bypass both the OpenRent basic screening questions and the LL’s bespoke screening questions, and also to be excluded from the Arrange Viewing function. That would mean that the LL is holding the property for a completely unknown applicant. It seems more sensible for “the system” to allow the applicant to use Rent Now only after approval by the LL. :+1:t4: