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Letting agents excluded from new student property platform

A new student accommodation property platform has been launched which aims to deliberately by-pass letting agents. 

Housemates is for students, landlords and property operators and claims it will “bring much-needed transparency, efficiency and reassurance to the sector.” 

It is now open for early access to property owners ahead of the 2021/22 academic year and students will be able to make bookings from October this year. 


While it will initially cater for property owners and students studying in Manchester, Liverpool, Dublin, Edinburgh, London and Melbourne it is also rapidly expanding its supply across other cities in the UK and internationally.  

Founder Lydia Jones (pictured above) says: “The student housing market is an area ripe for innovation and disruption. It’s 2020 and expectation when it comes to any online experience is high; we believe students deserve to be able to book accommodation in the same, hassle-free way they do holidays. 

“We’ve spoken to thousands of domestic and international students and it is clear that audiences generally found existing processes slow, out-dated and lacking in terms of both transparency and security.  International students in particular felt particularly vulnerable to being exploited by agents. 

“Using feedback loops with both students and landlords we’ve identified new ways to deliver a faster, easier and more secure way to book accommodation that meets the needs of all users. As we grow our community across the UK we will continue to innovate based on real-time, evolving feedback and adapt to consumer demand.” 

She adds that the impact of Covid-19 hasn’t slowed development of the platform, “but we have taken into consideration the needs of students travelling from overseas to study in the UK to ensure we cater for changes in post-lockdown booking behaviour.”

Students can sign up to Housemates for free and - apparently - the platform “removes the need for letting agents and the associated fees, providing landlords and tenants with the opportunity to transact totally online.”

It uses automation for all parts of the booking process.

“Our mission is to help students move smoothly through their university life, starting with an effortless way to arrange their accommodation” claims Jones. “By removing ‘the middleman’ we’ve streamlined the whole operation, taking 100 per cent of the transaction online, and reduced overall costs for all parties.”

  • SCN Lettings

    "Students can sign up to Housemates for free and - apparently - the platform “removes the need for letting agents and the associated fees, providing landlords and tenants with the opportunity to transact totally online.”

    Err....has she not heard of the Tenant Fee Act 2019? There are no "tenant fees" now.

    And when the compliance, safety, and rent collection goes belly up for all parties they will realise why there are agents.


    It seems the way to promote yourself these days is not by showing you have a better product or idea, it is by attacking others.

    It works for Shelter etc so they think by attacking agents it will make them sound like a white (am I allowed to say that in these woke days?) knight riding to the rescue of poor, oppressed students and landlords.

  • Billy the Fish

    Sounds like they will replace the 'old skool middlemen' with '2020 middlepeople'
    Innovative re branding stuff!!

    Roger  Mellie

    Only someone like Rick Spangle and Tommy Brown could make a gig like this work.

  • icon

    I can't wait to see how they will deal with deposit returns...?

    James Pratley

    Hi Richard. Great question. Housemates won’t actually be managing the return of deposits. Instead, for the UK market, a landlord will be required to provide proof that they have registered with a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme, such as the government-backed TDS. The scheme will then manage the deposit return.


    Trust me they will be suggesting that there is no need to take a deposit as its against human rights

  • Roger  Mellie

    Looking at Spareroom, quality is going to be the real issue here.

  • girish mehta

    Any agent who go is on good customer service and gave to face meetings will survive
    As a landlord I paying for service whether online services I tend to the legwork for them.
    All they d d r to want to do is rubber stamp my efforts in return for high fees.
    I need them to provide professional service and not half hearted service,
    If I end up doing the legwork for them then I may do it myself and save the expenses.
    Why bother with extra effort to give it to someone else and when things go wrong you end up sorting via telephone and e mail and paying a hefty amount for the service


    What leg work do you do that the agent doesn't/won't do?

  • icon

    So a quick look at the website (which wasn't easy to to find) and it seems they are planning on making the experience/system contactless. I think it's a case of finding a place you like online and then clicking the 'sign tenancy' button, with seemingly no interaction with the landlord. Unlike paying for groceries at a self-service checkout or buying an item from Amazon, the transaction that is a tenancy agreement is not just limited to a one-time payment and a one-time, single delivery. Landlords want to know who is renting their property. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't see anything particularly good or new, except tenants who want particular properties, but simply don't want to interact with the LL (i.e. be known, personally sized up or potentially accountable in anyway beyond a limited and difficult to claim against deposit)...more like a hotel or Airbnb type set-up...only I don't think LLs will go with that.

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    it'll all come crashing down on the Landlord !

  • girish mehta

    Lyndon baker. I am a landlord for 20 years. I have agents to let my property . They have been charging me fees and on top
    Of that they have charged my tenants. Had had issues with tanent . Issues not resolved when I get involved then it is sorted. I am doing their job.
    Then I have to update him.
    Yes you are going to say find another agent. But they all sing from the same hymn sheet
    Hence the tenant fee ban
    Some agents have been milking the landlords and tenants
    Landlords have tried on line agents . Same service issues
    Good agent are far and few who do care and give good service.
    At the end of the day if I am not getting the service then I
    Will manage tenancy myself
    Less Hastie .

  • icon

    Yes, why would you stay with an agentb that gives you poor service.

    I can not more accept your bald statement that "Good agent are far and few who do care and give good service." than I would accept the same being said about landlords or even tenants. Generalisations do not work!


    I too am a long time agent and many LLs have absolutely no appreciation for how much work has to be done and the legislative hoops that must be jumped through now compared with the early days of getting the tenant to sign a single-sided, off-the-shelf, WH Smith tenancy agreement and to pass the rent on to the LL minus our commission every month. We’d not changed our rates for over 20 years and we’ve held them at 10%, only it costs the first month’s rent at first sign up now. We looked at itemising for all the things we allowed our LLs to take for granted (never charged for advertising or inspections, for example), but that was too complicated.

  • icon

    For some reason I can't reply directly to James Pratley so here goes anyway! James you say that schemes like TDS will manage the deposit return which begs the question what if the tenant/landlord are not happy with the outcome who will adjudicate? It won't be TDS that's for sure and who will pay for doing the deposit return? I wasn't aware that these schemes are property managers with current experience and relevant skills to carry out such work. How long will the deposit return take? It doesn't seem very well thought through...

  • girish mehta

    Luke that where we disagree
    I employ agents services to work for me. I pay you the rate for the work you have agreed.
    You then cannot charge extra for things you have not bothered to cost your self and expect landlords to keep on paying you. When I let my house I have made an investment and put lot is money and all risk are mine.
    I can’t go to the tenants and ask for extra money because I have not allowed for maintenance or the drainage or boiler issues and have to pay.
    Agent can walk away if they find a bad talents but the landlord get stuck with non rent paying talents.
    I have had one agent offer me a refund for getting things wrong
    When you charge for something then you should do the work
    Even you admit you have not accounted for free service you have provided. Landlords and tenants don’t expect anything for free but expect a decent all inclusive service that the way to build customer loyalty.
    May be I am old school of thought. It seems that this not
    The way now. And the government gets involved and passes laws


    I suggest you re-read Luke's post.

    At no point does he say he wantsw to charge extra. He simply states that there are things that landlors are not necessarily aware of such as advertising costs which never go down and the time involved in R2R chesks; supplying copies of the EPC, Gas Safety How to Rent guide, Gas & Electric certificates etc.


    I wouldn’t increase my rates on a whim or a regular basis, but each year that ticks by, there’s more legal requirements for me to look out for on the LLs behalf. I never said I would do whatever (how ever much work that might be) was necessary to keep legal forever for a fixed fee. My fee was set when I basically collected the rent and handed it on. Over the years I’ve taken the hit on the extra workload, but recently it was time to let the LLs know it will cost you significantly more and if you don’t like it, find some other mug to do it for you or have a bash at doing it for yourself.

  • girish mehta

    Lyndon, some of the above are paid by the landlords .rest are free printed off the websites. or photocopies of original. if the agent is employed to find tenants for landlord than it is given that agent may have to advertise or find another ways to find tenants. that is his job weather the landlords is aware or not it does not matter. he is paid on result. I was a service engineer I give a quote and end up buying a special tool to do the task . may only use it couple of times. I would not expect my customer to understand or to aware and need to buy these tool . his concerns is I have paid you to fix the item. and I will pay you when the job is done. I normally write off the cost of item and do not expect the charge extra. because that was the deal.


    Girish, you are missing the point, whether that is by accident or design I don’t know, but I will leave it there.

  • girish mehta

    May be I may missed something, no bad feeling nice talking to you . good luck


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