New User - Feedback

So, I am a new user to OpenRent and have just advertised the first property (not the first proeprty rented). We’ve now reached referencing stage and I am using RentNow.

I have some feedback on the system:-

  1. A landlord can’t seem to gather any pre-screening information before deciding to proceed with a Holding Deposit and referencing. I would normally accept an application form from propsective tenants that collects basic information on current address, rental history, income sources, income amount etc. From this I would determine the most suitable tenant to progress and then request a holding deposit, stop viewings and progress through referencing during the 15 day holding period. With OpenRent it appears that any tenant can request to put in a Holding Deposit and they only provide information once that is accepted. Furthermore I then have to pay £20 per tenant to progress referencing and still don’t see any information untilt he checks are completed. This means paying for references just to find out if the tenant is even suitable. If they aren’t then I am £20-£80 out of pocket and 2 weeks wasted. Even if we end up keeping a holding deposit it doesn’t cover 2 weeks lost rent and the £20-£80 for referencing. The only way I can get information to start is to request it separately but then teh tenant has to repeat that infromation during referecning via OpenRent. To my mind, information should be collected if a tenant is interested in a property and viewable by the landlord so that, where there are multiple suitable applicants, the landlord can then decide who they will progress with holding deposit and references.

  2. During the referencing process it is very difficult and frustrating to take calls from the tenants asking what they need to do for a, b or c. The landlord does not see what the tenant is seeing and has no experience of the application interface so cannot advise the tenant. The referencing is being completed on behalf of the landlord so it’s a bit frustrating to be blind and unhelpful in this way. Should a landlord not be able to see what is being requested of the tenant? I did try about 6 times to call RentGuard referencing but it just rang off after a few minutes with no pickup, so you have to keep redialling to try and get someone

I haven’t got to contract signing yet as still waiting for two tenants to get through the referencing stage, but the above are two quite prominent issues to me as a new user, that might influence me using the process again.

It would probably be better for me in future to take details myself and initiate referencing so that I can pre-screen people how I want.


You can still “gather any pre-screening information before deciding to proceed with a Holding Deposit and referencing” as you have done in the past, otherwise go straight into formal referencing before clicking any Open Rent buttons.

My understanding is that you have to accept their holding deposit request on Open Rent, otherwise it cannot be registered. Warning: once accepted, your advert will be withdrawn until this deposit is returned in an attempt to stop further viewings.

Formal Referencing keeps you informed of the progress of referencing if not instantly handled, so you have some insight while it progresses.

Many landlords on this forum prescreen before going into formal referencing.

Regarding 2, I have no experience: I have only let to one couple and had no such behaviour: everything was handled by the referencing agency with whom the tenant should be interacting and not you.

Hope this helps until others provide feedback to you.

1 Like

ALWAYS take details yourself first. ! Is it for yourself only? 2 Are you in work? 3 how much do you earn? Do you have pets ? Do you have children/ Do you smoke? Do you have any CCJ S. Do you rent at present? IF YES. Who is your landlord ? Always ask questions first You can then eliminate those you would not be happy with. If they are not happy to answer dont let to them . They can ask certain questions about you as well of course, you both have to like each other. (landlord of 40 years)PS I have never taken a holding deposit.


I would do it yourself it is much easier and quicker.

1 Like

I am starting to think that. RentGuard Referencing provide a phone number but neither the tenants or I have once been able to get hold of anyone. The phone just rings and rings until it rings off and you have to keep redialling and never get any answer.

1 Like

I recently used this process and I should have used more questions in the initial stage.
Because the person was on a temporary contract, made it up what rent they had been paying before and the other tenant and her guarantor both failed the credit check. I lost £60 on credit checking.
This is part of the process of rentals, these costs are put down to my costs against income on my tax return.
Don’t go into renting if you think it’s just about making money.
It’s about giving someone a home, making that home comfortable and at the same time having an investment that beats the banks returns.
The Openrent process also includes other legal requirements making sure that you are able to evict if necessary.

Thanks for your feedback Chris. If the tenant provides misleading information then that is ground for retaining the Holding Desposit. This is why I believe that OpenRent should start the application information gathering process BEFORE you then request a holding deposit and move to referencing. That way it is clear that they have provided information before placing the HD. If they provide misleading info then the HD should be retained and paid to the landlord. Even then it is a small compensation as we have the costs of referencing from that and it is only 1 week rent value vs 2 weeks waste of time when the property could have been progressing with a more suitable applicant.

Mick3, what you say is the process in use by OpenRent, if I recall correctly:

  1. “OpenRent should start the application information gathering process BEFORE you then request a holding deposit” In a sense they do: they provide a facility for you to put your questions to the prospective tenants that make it clear what you are expecting of them, as part of the advert in a kind of way. It pre-screens the tenant to put off time wasters - but you must ask the questions. I have not used it myself because it became a facility after I ‘joined’ Open Rent: Before placing the advert, set OpenRent to turn on Default Screening, to ensure they have read the advert: For example I propose to say to the prospective tenant: "Note, don’t apply if you have:
  • no proof of income (bring it with you if you do to the viewing, others no entry!)

  • no UK bank account

  • not able to provide the most recent 3 months bank statements when asked

  • not willing to be referenced and credit checked before moving in

  • etc."

  1. “then request a holding deposit and move to referencing” is the process that Open Rent use, unless you decide not to have a holding deposit and I believe their system caters for this. Also, with Open Rent, tenants are not able to place holding deposits (HDs) without your permission, so that you can continue to advertise until you accept a holding deposit.

  2. Referencing is normally very thorough and fast, based on my one experience and as reported by at least one other landlord on this forum. I certainly would not have the time to do what they did for me in such a short time with frequent follow-ups to lack of forthcoming information.

  3. “If they provide misleading info then the HD should be retained and paid to the landlord.” Open Rent have a set of rules on how the holding deposit is handled. This states that you can keep the holding deposit to cover the cost of the credit check if the tenant provided materially false or misleading information during the formal referencing process, and should the pre-screen be proven by you to provide false or misleading, with or without formal referencing, then you would have to argue with Open Rent that this equally applies to retain the HD. You may need legal advice for that.

Your referencing agency, like so many other businesses, may not be answering the phone because it is not ‘manned’ during the Covid19 crisis. Staff may be working from home and may respond to emails. That would explain their lack of response to phone calls.

Apparently, there are many people trying to get a place that would ‘fail’ referencing, hence the need for the Open Rent provided pre-screening questions facility that puts off most of the dodgy characters. Those that are not put-off can then be caught out by formal referencing: a worthwhile insurance cost in itself.

On a separate subject, in my view, many landlords complain unnecessarily about the cost of referencing. It is very cheap for what is provided, very fast, and the cost is negligible compared to the income to be derived from the resulting tenancy, and as a result I cannot understand why so many complain of having to reference 2-5 people before they get a tenant. It is part of the ‘insurance’ cost to mitigate the risks of getting bad tenants, and like marriage, you don’t know what you are getting into no-matter how well referenced they are until you have them in your life!

Thanks for the comprehensive reply John.

What I meant by taking application information is that the pre-screening should be application questions on income, CCJ, bankruptcy etc. As you say, they could provide pre-screening info that is false at present then provide accurate information during referencing, but you ahve already committed to referencing costs and time based on the pre-screening info. As long as they provide correct info at referencing, even if that is different to what they told you during pre-screening and cause them to fail referencing, they would automatically get the HD back under OpenRent process. I believe they should have to input that information at pre-screening so that a landlord can view it before requesting/accepting the HD and moving on with the credit/reference check.

With regard COVID-19 situation and work from home etc, I fully understand this, but emails to tenants and myself are still asking to call them but then you can never actually do so. If they can’t take calls then there is no point continuously pointing a tenant or landlord at that number to call them.

As for cost, again, I totally agree the cost is very small, but it is still a cost and no-one in business wishes to spend money unnecessarily. If a tenant says they have a certain income at pre-screening but then that income changes when they complete the referencing info then that fits the criteria for retaining a holding deposit legally, but in OpenRent system it doesn’t.

The idea of paying for referencing is to remove the hasle, like you say at neglibible cost, but my first experience of this has been the opposite; I have had call after call from the tenant because they can’t contact the referencing people. I have the tenant wanting to send me information for me to forward on to referencing, but I can’t get hold of them myself.

It might be better if I could even see all the correspondence between tenant and referencing, rather than be outside of that process when the tenant rings me.

In future I think it may be easier for me to collect all the information and do affordability/credit checks myself and send off for employer/previous landlord references so at least I can see what is going on all the way through.

The idea of having a 3rd party do the whole referencing is great but it’s hasn’t worked in practice in the way I envisaged.

Hi Mick,

When a tenant enquires about your property, you’ll have to the option to enable auto-replies and screening that will allow you to filter out prospective tenants that you may not want to rent to. We have a full explanation on how you can set this up here:

Essentially, this will allow you to ask any questions you wish to tenants who enquire so you can gather your own information and request the holding deposit from the tenant you wish. It will also require tenants to fill out a short screening questionnaire based on the exclusions in your listing to ensure only appropriate enquiries are being sent your way.

Similarly, if you ever did wish to reference a tenant without accepting a holding deposit, you can do so by purchasing a standalone reference - this is not linked to a Rent Now application and will not affect your advertising. This means that you can reference a tenant whilst advertising of your property continues. However, if the tenant places a holding deposit and this is unexpected or unwanted, you can instantly reject the tenant without your listing being affected.

Comprehensive referencing typically takes about 5 working days to complete but this is obviously contingent upon the appropriate information requested from the tenant being provided in a timely manner. We apologise if it wasn’t clear to the tenant how to provide this information. It’s also perhaps worth pointing out that the tenant can always contact us here at OpenRent and we can advise them. Likewise, apologies that you weren’t able to get through to our referencing partners in this instance, they’ve completed 1000s of references for us and and we’ve found that they’re usually very responsive to user enquiries and will assist where they can.