Holding deposits, keeping tenant options open

Hi all - new landlord here and we have had multiple viewing applications for our property.
2 x potential tenants requested viewing the property early (even though it is not finished refurb) and both have confirmed holding deposits. It says that I have 96 hours to make a decision, but have 10+ viewings booked in early next week. (which I have told these applicants about).
I did like one couple so don’t want to lose them but want to honour the bookings made for when the property is finished. Any advice hugely appreciated?

In my view, it is unfair to retain a holding deposit when you are still showing the property to multiple prospective tenants. You have not declared the intention to taking the existing accepted enquiries to referencing unless you intend to do so within the 96h window. I’d be p*ssed off if someone was just hanging on to my money.

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You can only legally take a holding deposit from 1 tenant, so you may already be in breach. I suggest you refund both if you still want to see more people.

I just had a quick look at OR frequently asked questions and multiple tenants can place a holding deposit, then the landlord has 96 hours to accept before it is returned. So LL can only accept 1 deposit so the platform complies with the law.

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Holding deposit measns you hold the property for these TT. As you obviously don’t, there’s no point in keeping the deposit. Let them decide if they want to go with somebody else and refund their money.

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I think the prospective tenants have put forward their holding deposit. LL may not of asked them to. They can do this in the hope they will be selected for referencing. The landlord can then compare potential tenants. LL has 96 hours to decide before holding deposit is returned to tenant. As I understand it, the holding deposits are just sitting there waiting for the LL to accept one of them. As soon as LL accepts either one of the holding deposits then the advert is suspended.

Thats interesting Chris. The Tenant Fees Act 2019, Schedule 1 para 3(5) says that a holding deposit paid to a letting agent is not a permitted payment if they have already received one in relation to that tenancy. I dont know whether OR would care to comment on this?

I imagine OR get around it on some technicality. Are they a letting agent…? I don’t know, although I think probably not.

I think they are a letting agent as they offer a tenant find and tenancy creation service. I assume that they are registered with one of the ombudsman schemes, but I haven’t looked it up. I think that the Uber case and one or two others have shown that web-based operators don’t get away with saying we are just a platform.

I was reading their info pages earlier and they do describe themselves as a letting agent. They also use a third party to handle the tenants money. Possibly this is the technicality that allows multiple tenants to offer holding deposits.

Not convinced that would play out well in court.

I would suspend the other enquiries return one holding deposit and proceed to references with the one you like.
That lets everyone know where they stand and you’ve got your tenant.
If references fail you go back to them.

Its not an interview for a job where you see all the players and pick the best. If you like someone don’t waste anybody elses time and get on with it.

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Many thanks for the responses. I did communicate with both the perspective tenants to inform them that I would not be accepting either until we had honoured the previously arranged viewings. @Chris50, your point regarding the difference between this and a job interview is an interesting one and I had not considered that. As first time landlords, we thought exactly that we would see all and choose the ones we liked best to proceed with references…

Make clear to all tenants who enquire hey should not place a holding deposit until they are invited

As far as i know if prospective tenants click RENT NOW they will be invivited to submit a holding deposit this is not accepted until the landlord accepts it - you should simply reject it and contact the prospective tenant letting them know they have “jumped the gun” and should withdraw the offer of a holding deposit until they are "chosen "

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Exactly Mark. This is what I do I had over 100 applications in 24 hours from my flat that I’ve just let and I had people putting deposit down and contacting me and telling me they would pay me £300 more than the rent being asked. This is without even seeing the property. I had to send a global email out to everyone saying please do not put deposit down without me accepting it prior and please do not make offers of extra money. Sorry I don’t do this. I play fair with tenants . The most important thing is to get good tenants in that you like, have a very good gut feeling about & you feel will pay the rent. You need to also thoroughly check what referencing agencies do. They pass people without thoroughly checking them. So you need to do your homework. I was really strong years ago by the referencing agency, passing someone who they never ever should’ve passed.

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Amy, that’s an impressive response rate. Do you mind me asking what kind of property you have and if it’s located in a big city? Thank you.

Yes Big City. It was my home for years, well looked after. My tenants get getting outbid & getting quite distressed about the situation. It’s estate agents I think who push for bidding wars. I will not engage in this. The price is the price & I’ve never raised the rent to a tenant. Though nearly did as one tenant was not looking after my property!! She thankfully bought a flat & moved.

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I am in a similar position they put holding deposit down and didn’t even tell me so I chased them- my advice is take who you want but do full reference checks and if they qualify for rent guarantee insurance you have a chance, as you can’t get it if they have poor history etc. I have turned dozens away through telling me lies, if you get a clean bill of health it’s a great start

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If they are genuine good tenants and they will provide
you all basic references that is proof of income and
3-5 months bank statements so you can check.
Please note to check the employment details online and if they are working for not a reputable company then that would be a real concern.

Also I would do basic check online and also their
social media who they in contact with.

After a really bad tenant experience with fraud
reference and even the Rentguard did not identified the fraud and were not helpful.

But now I have good tenants who were aware of all general check and provided all information I asked without any hesitation. I know it takes a bit more of my time to do al but I think it’s worth it.

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