Who owns the relationship?

Some of you may have read my recent interactions with OpenRent vis-a-vis their seemingly sneaky tactics employed to peddle their products to landlords. But they also contacted my tenant by phone offering their “services”. I complained they should not be doing so since, amongst other things, I think it is contrary to GDPR. However, I was told they sought permission via their terms and conditions which the tenant would have agreed to as part of the contract process.

I understand the requirement for some limited permissions, but to require the tenant to agree to being contacted for sales promotion goes beyond the purposes for which I provided their information, and the tenant has little choice other than to agree to their terms in order to secure the property. I raised this particular concern with OpenRent, but they have not yet responded.

But their actions raise another concern, which is who is OpenRent’s customer and who owns the tenant relationship? It goes against the norms of business protocol to directly solicit a business or person who was introduced by your client without their permission. What’s the harm, you might say? Firstly, OpenRent cannot be aware of the specifics of the landlord/tenant relationship. Maybe I have a contact I might like to introduce for the purposes of helping my tenants with their services? But second and more importantly, as a tenant, I might take exception to my landlord putting me in a situation where I am being solicited and my data is being used for purposes other than the primary purpose of securing a property and it should be up to the landlord to gauge if this form of contact is appropriate or not. Certainly not OpenRent. Though I guarantee 90% of landlords, given the choice, would not want their tenant being contacted for the purposes of marketing, which is why we are not asked.

In both the situations I describe, OpenRent are being somewhat shady in their practices where they are putting their need to sell product as a priority citing it is in everyone’s interest to do so. But, in my mind, they assume too much. I own the relationship with my tenant and for OpenRent to impose themselves on my client without my express permission beyond what I, as the client, intended is poor form in anyone’s book it’s taking liberties.

It would be rather worrying if they did this with tenants of their Rent Now customers. In that instance they are the landlords principal and acting for them in their dealings with the tenant. I believe it would be a conflict of interest to also have the tenant as a customer.

This is exactly what they are doing. Also, as I previously mentioned in another post, they are making inclusions within their contracts that are unnecessary and could disadvantage the landlord seemingly for the purposes of marketing their insurance (which they sort of deny) but, end of the day, why mandate the need for the landlord to provide insurance in the contact when it is not required, unless OpenRent seek their own advantage.

I think OpenRent have forgotten who they represent and seem to think they are nothing more than a neutral intermediary. But this is not the case, they act as an agent on behalf of the landlord and at all times they should prioritise their interest, and certainly should not be sticking their noses into our tenants’ business without our say so.