Landlord who has lost faith in finding genuine tenants on Openrent

For the past 2 years or so, it’s been happening more and more and gets worse with each latest advert that is placed on Openrent but it’s now gone well beyond a joke.

First things first, our properties always show the latest detailed photographs & description. When a tenancy ends both me and my partner always do what’s necessary which usually involves a touch up of paint or otherwise a complete repaint along with a good old proper deep clean so when viewings take place it’s not off-putting to tenants due to wear and tear, dirt and all the rest of it. Everything works, no damp, gardens are tidy etc so all in all no issues with the properties themselves and rents are set at slightly above the market rent to try and attract the right type of tenant to the right type of property.

As for the Openrent pre-screening settings, the auto-reply questions are turned “ON” which asks for all the common sense related questions for tenants to answer regarding income/employment/references and so on. Some tenants answer these questions, some don’t, it’s about a 50/50 ratio. Those that do answer, the moment we reply to them or have any follow up correspondence the vast majority say absolutely nothing! Then we have those that have answered the pre-screening questions but then either fail to turn up to viewings or cancel the application about 30 minutes prior to a viewing. So with so many enquiries coming through, the vast rate of about 95% or so are absolute complete dross or complete utter time-wasters or both.

Having been a portfolio landlord in the game for 21 years, we thought we had seen it all but with tenant demand supposedly at an all time high is it just us that finds this whole Openrent enquiries just a complete waste of time? In the beginning, when Openrent first arrived, I honestly thought it was marvellous and a godsend for landlords that chose not to use an agent. However, and in my mind, Openrent has now become the new Gumtree and that was renowned for attracting all those undesirable enquiries you really didn’t want in the first place.

Anyway, with the remainder of those tenants that do actually turn up for viewings, most of them walk through the door they say “how nice the property is” followed by “they would like to proceed” and finally “what are the next steps”. But yep, they disappear into the ether and never to be seen or heard of again. When one of us sets off to do the viewings, we laugh and joke between us beforehand saying how many aren’t going to turn up today or how many turn up, say they love it & want it but ultimately disappear. Many a true word said in jest but it’s really the way it has become. We are honesty both baffled and deflated by it all as what else is there we can do or try?

So it’s back to using estate agents after being with Openrent from the very start and ironically enough the agent we are now using has also stated that they have had a fair few landlords coming to them saying exactly the same thing about Openrent so there is some kind of distorted comfort in knowing it’s not just us it’s happening to.

Maybe we just have complete and utter time-wasters who just so happen to be all based in Bristol or is it a national thing?:man_shrugging:t3:. Or maybe tenants no longer trust Openrent to find a property anymore? I would love to know the real reason to be honest.

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It worked OK for me in london. I think I had 87 or so queries of which sure a lot of them don’t follow the process or are unable to answer the simplest question (it amazed me how many people could not state their monthly income, I had answers from zero (i.e. they actually wrote the word zero) to £70,000 (for a £1,500 a month flat). Personally I think the process is too complicated because the questions I really want answers to, the ones I have set, only appear after tenant has potentially left a voice mail (most of which are totally irrelevant and tenants seem to think this is a substitute for replying to the screening questions) or answered openrent’s own screening questions, so by the time they get to see the landlord’s own screening questions many will think they already did that and so not bother, or they think it is too much faff. the final tenants were the ones who filled out all the questions perfectly! I guess a lot of people think their chance of getting the property is low so they follow a scattergun and apply for a lot of places but put little effort into each. I guess of the 87 applicants only 1 followed the process and met my requirements…

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Hi @Mark55 - Thanks for expressing your concerns, and sorry to hear we let you down with your latest rental property. It’s certainly a strange time in the rental market, with huge demand from tenants nationally, but not many properties available, resulting in tenants applying for more properties than usual (because they have such a low chance of succeeding). Generally this has resulted in tenants being more communicative and keen to move forward, rather than the opposite you have experienced here, but there is an element of perseverance / chance here. The best tenant might be enquiry #1, or it might be enquiry #40.

We’re looking at ways to help landlords here, but ultimately, the market conditions exist for ourselves as an agent the same as any other agency. We do have a new feature coming out in the next few weeks which will potentially be a game-changer for landlords vetting tenants - but we’re not quite ready to release it. Hopefully you’ll be able to try it out if you do give us a go next time.

Otherwise, the only thing I can do is look at your particular property and sequence of events. I hope you don’t mind me discussing non-personal details here, but if you’d rather discuss privately do let me know and our support team can help as normal.

It looks like we sent you 41 viewing requests on this latest occasion, until you paused your advert.

I can see you rejected 8 of the applicants, it looks like you arranged viewings with 13 of them, and ultimately from your post, it sounds like none of those viewings were fruitful which is obviously a shame. It does seem some of the tenants who arranged a viewing notified you they had found somewhere else, and is the reason for your rejection - this is reasonably common I’m afraid with such a fast moving market, but it’s also worth asking the tenants which property they picked over yours (and why). It can be helpful to know what the competition is. I note you dropped your price by roughly 10% just before pausing your advert, so if price was a factor in the tenants decision, you might have been able to discuss this with them.

Generally speaking, it does seem tenants were genuinely applying to your property, but for some reason it wasn’t their 1st choice. If there have been a large number of properties added in your area, and it’s suddenly become competitive, you may need to adjust your price / get professional photos (which really do help!). It’s worth being open with tenants and working out why they didn’t pick your property so you can react and know what’s happening in the wider market - rather than simply dismissing their enquiry as a waste of time.

Hopefully you find a tenant soon, and again, I’m sorry if you feel you had more “time wasters” than usual this time. If there are any specific tenant enquiries you would like us to look further into, our support team are more than happy to do so - we have systems in place to prevent abuse and spam, so it should only be genuine enquiries that make it through.

Thanks again, and good luck in your search!
Daz.

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Thank you for all the responses received so far.

Daz - I may appreciate that this may be a difficult one to try and resolve but something really needs to change. As a landlord I can only give and speak as I find and from my perspective it is all about quality and not quantity.

I really do not want 150 applicants to be enquiring about my property (which I’ve had previously had even with auto-reply on/pre-screening questions turned on etc.)

As well all know, only 1 tenant, whether it’s an individual or group, can take a property at any one given time. What am I going to choose to have - 150 applicants that ultimately don’t end up with a tenancy or 1 individual/group that do end with a tenancy? We all know the answer, it’s the 1 tenant who ticked all the boxes - that’s all I want.

There really has to be a much better way of eliminating the high-volume dross to an absolute bare minimum to the point of near elimination because time spent dealing with such enquiries only causes frustration, exhaustion and time spent lost and that is the bottom line reality of it. Openrent may think that landlords are endlessly over-joyed with having continual enquires coming through from anyone and everyone - trust me, we are not. Imagine enquiries are like tenants themselves - no enquiry is better than a bad enquiry.

I maybe opening a whole can of worms and potential shoot-me-downs here but as landlords who have to pay for the privilege of using your services, why not have tenants who would have to pay to use your service with some kind of paid subscription service? I know straight away this would eliminate so many issues for landlords, as anyone who has to pay for something will always think twice before parting with their cash, it’s a basic human instinct. I’ve no idea whether a paid subscription would fall foul of the Tenants Fees Act but if it doesn’t then that is a possible and potential solution to the problem.

See the thing is I know that I am not alone here from seeing other landlords receiving large volumes of unsuitable enquiries here on Openrent as you only have to look at current and historic posts from landlords in the Openrent Community. You must realise this without being in some kind of Ivory Tower denying that the problem actually exists?

I am convinced that if this issue continues growing and word spreads (which it ultimately will if it hasn’t already) then you will have a service that people will simply end up stop using altogether. Technology, apps, websites and all the rest of it can all be used by everyone one minute and then used by no-one the next. Openrent is no different.

I just want a consistently reliable service that works, one that “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it”. Unfortunately, what I have at the moment is one that “is broken and definitely does needs fixing”. I just hope you take note and act before it’s too late.

Thank you.

Mark

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I don’t think its that bad, OK so I had 87 but the vast majority were easily dismissed. I do think they should scrap the voice messages and integrate the two sets of screening quesitons into one set determined by landlord but that’s optimisation. Just my perspective. But yes I agree, the final tenant was immediately obvious as they were the only people out of 87 to actually complete all the questions as requested, and with rational answers and logic!

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My local agents charge 450 plus vat so 540 for their find a tenant service so ive no idea how they make any profit on that if they are having to take 50 to 100 enquiries then filter them and process them. The hours of admin will be huge .

I do understand your position - and as I alluded to in my last post, we are working on a new feature that I think will help for landlords in your situation. It will be launched in the next few weeks. We’ll have to see how tenants and landlords respond to it, but we’re not ignoring landlords who, like yourself, are overwhelmed by tenant demand and the admin required to filter high quality applicants from lower quality ones.

The situation where a landlord discovers an applicant is undesirable, only once they’ve been referenced, is a situation I think we can really help with and possibly eliminate altogether.

I do think it’s important for any landlord to understand why a tenant has picked a different property over theirs - most tenants won’t be up-front about this, but as with any marketing, it’s important to know if a property is priced too high, the photos (or property itself) is deemed less desirable, etc.

And if we’re too strict up-front and only pass on tenants who are “ready-to-proceed”, you may never find out why tenants aren’t picking your property and have 0 enquiries. It’s against the law, but as a thought experiment, we could for example require any tenant to place a holding deposit before passing on their enquiry - I don’t think this is something many landlords would want, but is the extreme of the position you are arguing the case for.

The problem is that you have no idea what their filtering process is like. Are they losing leads, putting off genuine desirable tenants, not replying to enquiries fast enough, etc. Getting this right is crucial to finding the best tenant for your property, and something we’ve focused on since our launch.

Our aim is to give these tools to landlords so they can decide what level of filtering (and thus risk of losing a good tenant) they want to take on.

I for one certainly do not want to spend endless hours over-analysing as to why a tenant hasn’t picked a property. Are we supposed to delve into every enquiry and go into full market research as to the why’s and what-not’s of it all? Quite frankly, that’s just insane and completely unrealistic. Tenants who don’t turn up for a viewing, am I supposed to write some kind of survey expecting a written response from them. The reality is, if a tenant doesn’t like a property, does not turn up without notifying or any other reason that they don’t want to proceed, then the vast majority will most likely ignore any response/feedback from a landlord. Again, it’s just too involved, cumbersome and not what landlords want to spend time and effort chasing such irrelevance.

As for agents having a filtering process, that’s exactly what I have been saying, and of course there should be a filtering process because you end up with this very topic I created otherwise. As another landlord has already put on this post, there was complete garbage for 87 enquiries and found the one on the 88th. Furthermore, once we have reached the milestone of 100 enquiries and still not found a suitable tenant, we have to start all over again and pay for the privilege. Something is seriously wrong there if you ask me but no doubt Openrent will justify themselves on receiving another £29.00 for doing so.

From my logic, agents also have a clear advantage over landlords here on Openrent. Stating the obvious I know, but agents have many different properties listed by many different landlords. If a tenant fails to turn up, or does not complete a pre-application form etc then the agent soon establishes what that tenant is like and will soon avoid taking them seriously and marking them with a ‘red flag’ (albeit unofficially). All we get here is a “reject enquiry”. There is absolutely no policing here on Openrent and the tenant is still free to go and do this endlessly with other adverts/landlords. I know this is 100% true because I remember an applicant who I rejected due to being a “no show” but that individual enquired again shortly afterwards requesting a viewing on another of my properties. It’s situations like these that an agent has an upper hand as they have control and monitoring over individuals and they can soon weed out the good from bad very quickly indeed. Letting agents also obtain information from tenants upfront so that a tenant is “on the books” so to speak. This is another huge advantage and weeds out potential time wasters. As someone stated it’s a scattergun approach on Openrent, just a free Wild-West for anyone wanting to take a punt on anything, quite literally.

It’s a basic fact that any tenant who is serious enough to want to be considered for a property, will always turn up on-time for a viewing, be expected to fill in numerous forms, reply to specific questions from landlords, provide information as requested, won’t waste anyone’s time (their own as well as a landlords) and those are the serious ones with whom we are seeking.

You don’t get something for nothing and it’s just all too easy for a tenant to just click a button, provide a phone number and email address and somehow be expected to have the keys handed to them for a property.

Anyway, the more this subject is debated on this post, and the more responses I read from other landlords combined with the defensive stance that Openrent is taking here, the more I realise what my suspicions are telling me - Openrent has had it’s day and is simply no longer fit for purpose.

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I can’t agree with that conclusion, I find it pretty good on the whole, but horses for courses

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Now landlords are complaining there are too many enquiries!
Just book one day for everyone and pick the best.
No shows don’t matter then

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I have had previous conversations with OpenRent about just having my OWN pre screening questions in place. I really think it does not work when the automatic ones are utilised. Who wants to fill in two sets of info, much of which is simply a variation on a theme ?
Yes, maybe the slightly more switched on tenants will get it but most don’t. Time wasting for everyone.
I also don’t consider a crackly “I want your house, call me on xyz ” to be a legitimate enquiry and will ignore it completely. More than once, these idiots have complained to OpenRent about this who then give me a lecture or my response rate gets decimated.
And don’t even get me started on the holding deposit confusion.
There are definite tweaks to be made but OpenRent seem curiously tone deaf about them.
Having said all that, for £49 for Rent Now what you get is an insanely good bargain so I don’t think their days are numbered just yet. I will certainly continue to use them, ignore it when I get put on the naughty step and be grateful for the value for money they represent.

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If you’re happy to book a day for no shows all well and good.

amazing also to me how many people, either through voice or message, just say things like “I want this flat”, one guy even said “this flat is mine”! He was claiming to earn a lot so I checked his linkedin profile and its latest update a week before he posted saying he had monthly income over £4k was “looking for new opportunities”!

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I have good experience advertising on Openrent. One flat in Oxford, I found a tenant after 2 days of viewings (about 15 applicants). One flat in London, this one is gone so fast, I only did one day of viewings. Both are good tenants with decent jobs. The follow ups of referencing and form filling require a bit of hand holding to get them to do it right, but it’s alright.
I ignore people who don’t answers the screening questions. And true, many answer monthly income with yearly income, but you can work that out easily enough.

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Speaking as a tenant in need of a property asap, hearing landlord’s experiences like this is very disheartening. I am struggling immensely trying to find a landlord who accepts housing benefit in the south west london area, I am a serious applicant who has always privately rented and can give references etc, but the moment housing benefit is mentioned im not even given the chance to have a viewing. It gives us all a bad reputation as tenants or tenants who have housing benefit as a means to top up rent payments. At this rate i will be living on the street off of a cardboard box. I hope you find the tenants you need. We are not all the same

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I’m sorry to hear that you find it difficult to find genuine tenants.
I’ve lived in my rented home for over 8 years now, and put up with an awful estate agents who don’t do any of the work that needs doing, I keep my house well kept and clean, I am now starting to do the work the landlords should be paying out for because I’m struggling to find another affordable property with 3 beds, separate dining room and garden that would accept a mum with 3 children (12,14,16) and a 2 year old Shihtzu.

If you know of anywhere that has that style of house and would accept a family I’d appreciate it if you were to let me know.

My house is a 4 storey house and unable to use the basement due to the damp and mould that the landlord has ignored for over 6 years, the electrician came 2 years ago and said how dangerous the electrics were and that would need to be dealt with asap, and no one has come to fix them.

I feel the mirror image of you, you’re looking for a genuine tenant who would care for the property and make it their forever home, and I’m looking for a genuine landlord who would be able to accommodate for my family’s needs.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.
I hope you manage to find someone soon.
Take care

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The situation you describe is the same as my sister, you need to understand the landlord has made a mental calculation that it is only worth keeping you in there if they don’t need to spend money on the decoration. Their alternative is to take the property back, spend money on decoration, then rent it out again at higher rent (or sell it). A lot of people end up with this type of relationship with their landlord, from your point of view it is bad that they don’t maintain anything, from their point of view they think they could rent it out for a much higher rent now, but neither side wants to make the first move.

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Hi Mark,
I have been using Open rent for few years now and It has been an important tool for me in finding a suitable tenants.
Yes, there is a frustration when you put a custom base vetting questions and you have potential tenants leaving VM bypassing your vetting questions. Those are counted towards 100 enquiries, which I believe should not be the case. Nobody should be allowed to make a voice mail enquiry without first passing already set up vetting questions. They don’t leave the phone numbers to call them and you are unable to contact them at all which is pointless feature and frustrating to landlords.
If this can be amended it would help.

I also had a TON of time wasters - they were not suitable at all - I keep tightening up what tenants I needed - but they still applied then OpenRent got on my case for not responding and or rejecting them. I hope OpenRent can assess this issue as my ad got downgraded I think due to this.

Yeah, I didn’t appreciate the telling off, tbh.
If OpenRent want every applicant responded to then they need to make sure they cannot make a ridiculous enquiry like “ I want your house, call me”.
I am certainly not going to respond to that.

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