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Written by rosalind renshaw

A new online lettings service has launched, allowing landlords to list their properties for just £20 – with the price including advertising on Rightmove.

OpenRent is one of the latest vehicles allowing private landlords access to advertising on the big portals. Others, such as http://www.ithinkproperty.co.uk/, which allow private sellers access to Rightmove for £99, caused heated discussion on LAT’s sister site EAT yesterday.

However, OpenRent seems to be one of the cheapest services so far, at £20 for landlords.

They will not be charged for referencing but tenants will be charged £20 if referencing is requested by the landlords.

OpenRent, a London-based start-up, says it will also take care of legal issues like tenancy deposits and contracts, and offer features such as landlord feedback from previous tenants and the ability to search for properties based on commuting by public transport.

It says: “The recurring theme is the use of technology to do away with the expensive, old world practices of traditional high street agencies – for instance taking advantage of digital signing technology, instant payments and online notifications – to create a system which is not only much cheaper than its offline cousin but faster and more convenient.”

Additional features like landlord feedback from previous tenants and the ability to search for properties based on their commute time via public transport further enhance the tenant experience.

The team behind OpenRent are Darius Bradbury and Adam Hyslop who met at Oxford University.

The founders say that they “directly experienced the problems they are trying to solve as tenants and landlords themselves, and are strong believers in the ability of technology to not only reduce cost in old world industries, but to create huge improvements in customers’ experiences at the same time”.

A Rightmove spokesman said yesterday: “It is not our policy to comment publicly on individual advertisers. If an advertiser’s business model is found to be breaking our terms and conditions, then we will take it up directly with the advertiser and take appropriate action.”



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    @Mark Hutchings - Actually, it looks like Rightmove increased their landlord verification procedure, which some landlords just aren't fussed enough to carry out when they are getting 10's of enquiries as it is.

    OpenRent do offer "proper" checks, they have fully comprehensive referencing, as well as offer Rent Guarantee Insurance if you wanted. There isn't a higher standard!

    With regards to the contract, actually, most lawyers would tell you a standardised agreement is much more robust. Humans introduce error, and spurious clauses are meaningless when it goes to court, hence a rock solid standardised approach is clearly the way forward (and what many agents do in reality).

    Good luck - I've moved on from High street agents overrun with people that bend the truth like you to earn a fast buck.

    Whether it be OpenRent or someone else, online agents are here to stay - better service, faster turnarounds, and a drastically lower cost.

    • 23 May 2013 15:15 PM
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    They have just had the Rightmove, knock knock on the door, dropped from 700 listed ads to just 200 in a hurry...reality just hit !
    The real question here is that to set up tenancies correctly requires proper checks and a professional service level, not just a standard one agreement automated email with e-signature ! - shows rank inexperience.
    No company will be profitable flogging only portal advertising , I am afraid you have to do the work to earn a living. a professional let only service costs more than £20 me thinks.

    • 31 March 2013 22:14 PM
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    Agree with "hmmm.." below,

    RM or zoopla shouldnt allow online agents which offer landlords/vendor package at a cheaper rate. RM or zoopla should be solely for estate agents only, otherwise why we pay for such dear rates while online agents are selling simlar products to landlords at cheaper rates?

    • 19 February 2013 12:57 PM
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    This is a great thing to help getting the market back on track!!

    Letting Agent

    • 14 February 2013 13:39 PM
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    This i hope will be a good thing to get the market back on track

    Letting Agent

    • 14 February 2013 13:37 PM
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    This won't work. If you look at their Rightmove profile you'll see that they're on a branch rate (london). Once it takes off and Rightmove actually notice them they'll be on the same pricing structure as upad (nationwide).

    This means that for they effectively pay the equivalent of a branch fee for every 30 properties advertised.

    Good luck boys, you can drop in as many buzz words as you want but this isn't going to work and it'll cost mummy and daddy a fair few quid in the process.

    • 05 September 2012 21:53 PM
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    @Woe is me

    I agree with you - but you only have to look at the next item and charging landlords by stealth and see the silence and lack of comments. That's because glass houses and stones don't sit well together.

    No-one criticises Sequence because all agents do it.

    How anyone can possibly charge any tenant more than a £200 application fee on a joint application defeats me - always has and always will. The only other thing that amazes me more is that some tenants actually pay these levels of charges.

    I rent out 5 friends and family flats and one of the first questions I am asked by a Right Move enquirer is "what is your fee?"

    When I tell them £75 they don't believe me. OK my only overheads are a bit of time, paper and ink and the referencing company fee. But even so.........

    • 11 May 2012 13:49 PM
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    @ "about time" - you obviously have no understanding of this business and your comments are laughable. As you are incompetent, it is probably best if you stay off these sites. There must be something simpler for you to comment on elsehwere? I am sure there will be - just keep looking. Good luck though

    • 11 May 2012 13:03 PM
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    Do you know about Status Quo, (not the 3 chord rock band)
    In industries that have been around a bit, practices and prices settle down to a level that suits everyone. Most Agents are happy with their lot, so are their landlords, tenants are rarely happy and it is in their nature to moan. Any business that uses price as it main and long term USP will fail.

    Reducing prices always means having to sell more to achieve the same profit. No more needs to be said, cheap is the first and most obvious sign of failure.

    • 11 May 2012 12:44 PM
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    It saddens me to read about some of the high fees my colleagues charge to tenants.

    Berkshire Agent - If we can get it, why not charge it?

    It saddens me even more that everyone seems to have just ignored this.....

    • 11 May 2012 09:44 AM
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    Good luck to them, but I think they have overlooked a rather important detail. Their users!
    Over 50% of current landlords are of an age that does not bode well with up to date technology.

    Yes younger landlords will hit the web 1st but I fear their % may not be enough for this new service to survive.

    High. Street agents will always have a place well for the next few yrs at least

    As for @about time! Jeez, u were ripped off, you need to report your agent (if your unhappy) to ARLA or the ombusman, I assume you did use a regulated agent?

    • 11 May 2012 08:19 AM
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    Good luck Darius and Adam. The technology bit is the easy bit, any agent can find 100 techies capable of writing tech to do this stuff.

    The bit they haven't worked out is how to attract the 12,500 properties they need to cover the wages of every member of staff. That is 25000 props just to cover their own wages before they start paying for space on portals and running/supporting the technology.

    Sadly this is another case of enthusiasm getting the better of business sense, for that reason I'm out!

    You won't listen boys but spend a few quid on companies house reports and see if you can find a Property Technology Company with credit rating above 53.

    There are already some very smart blokes achieving far more in terms of innovation than this but sadly they are not making any money.

    • 10 May 2012 22:58 PM
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    I think Darius and Adam are about to find out that new technology can only reduce costs by so much; after that you need an old fashioned human being - or employee as they are sometimes called - to step in. the more you scale it up the more people you will need.

    We've started using document signing technology, online reference completion, fast payment systems, electronic inventories, data feed for updating websites and portals, etc, we're also looking at automatic bank credit allocation systems and an automated maintenance handling system.

    All of these systems save us time, and a bit of money, but it hasn't reduced the number of people we need to run the business. We still need people to operate them and that is where the real costs come in; not just in employment costs but in the space for them to work, holiday pay, sick and maternity pay etc etc

    Saving a ream of paper and some postage costs each week using document signing technology is a good start but it doesn't make a dent in the cost of an employee.

    • 10 May 2012 12:27 PM
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    We pride ourselves on providing a management service to a landlord and tenant which the landlord pays for annually.

    Its a fair and reasonable cost for the good property management service he and his tenant recieved.

    We offer a transparent service and have integrity - we do not load on to contractor invoices, we do not get kick backs, we dont charge for tenancy agreements. Every external thrid party invoice we get - wether the landlord or tenants responsibility is charged at cost - we are being paid already for a service by the landlord - therefore do not see the need to chase the pound on unethical load ons or charges.

    We have been operating for 3 months and have a management portfolio of 200 high end properties in london - word of mouth about our actual "honest and Integrity" approach is spreading like wild fire.

    • 10 May 2012 12:23 PM
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    As a very small scale letting agent, I would love RM to offer me the opportunity to list individual properties for £20.

    But as it is their ridiculous pricing policy effectively bans me from their site.

    I will not however run with these people, as I would not be happy to release information to an unknown third party.

    If you read this RM. Please wake up, sieze the opportunity and do something really positive for struggling small busnesses

    • 10 May 2012 12:13 PM
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    Spot on Ray Evans!!

    Finding a tenant is easy, advertising and completing viewings is easy, shoving guaranteed rent insurance down landlords throats is easy... Proper management of multiple tenancies take skill, and continuely updated training. As a very good agent, I charge tenants £100 agency fee, and landlords 10% a month commission. I have lots of properties, because word of mouth gets around that I am good at managing tenancies!!

    • 10 May 2012 11:42 AM
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    @ about time,

    We charge £360 for one applicant to be referenced and £480 for 2. If we can get it, why not charge it? If they don't want to rent our property and pay our fees they can go elsewhere!

    I saw in writing from one of my tenants, a Martin & Co in Camberley, Surrey charging £660 for 2 to be referenced the other day, and then another £170 for Check in and tenancy agreement, so we are cheap in comparison.

    I am an independent just trying to make money and survive. We have hardly any properties to rent so we have to charge those fees to exist.

    • 10 May 2012 10:45 AM
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    Landlords and Tenants are not interested at all in an Agents basic costs.

    Whatever agents may think tenant 'introduction' and possibly a few bolt-ons is not too difficult, it requires advertising but little knowledge. Trying to restrict this basic activity will not meet with success (Reatriction of Trade)

    One of the main problems with letting agents is that prospective clients and the general public have not been educated in the difference between just Lettings (introducing a tenant, which is mainly employing salesmanship) and Property Management. (which is a particular skill requiring training, qualification & experience) Proper management is an on-going fucnction, well worth the fees and publication of this is down to the agents.

    Solicitors, Accountants & Surveyors are always promoting their skills etc. to the public and it is about time that the property management profession did the same - locally and nationally.

    • 10 May 2012 10:45 AM
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    @ about time

    All good and well saying how much paper cost and referencing cost.

    When you are running a business believe it or not you have rent, rates, PAYE etc etc to pay so you have to factor into your business model what it costs to run that particular business, so for example if you buy IN at £1 you dont sell OUT at £1 otherwise it will not be called a business it will classed as a charity!!!

    • 10 May 2012 10:04 AM
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    you lot make me laugh

    • 10 May 2012 09:57 AM
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    I've tried this already for £30 per property as a way to attract local landlords, it was a complete waste of time and effort. This will only attract the landlords who see agents as vultures (like About Time!). I used to be one of those landlords until I opened my own agency and see how much work goes into it. Good luck with £20 advertising, you'll soon stop or quadruple the price after a few months!

    • 10 May 2012 09:41 AM
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    @about time - shall we apply your reasoning to other industries as well? Solicitors would be a good place to start.

    We've seen it all before. Didn't Tesco try a few years ago?

    They are all after a quick buck. Like Rightmove, they start off cheap and then they they either fail, or become expensive.

    • 10 May 2012 09:14 AM
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    So let me get this right as I am a simple soul when it comes to technology rather than dealing with people (i.e. I struggle with technology!)

    Darius Bradbury and Adam Hyslop who met at Oxford University (one assumes they were Double First students and not College porters?!!) say that they

    “directly experienced the problems they are trying to solve as tenants and landlords themselves, and are strong believers in the ability of technology to not only reduce cost in old world industries, but to create huge improvements in customers’ experiences at the same time”.

    What problem are they trying to solve - the fees charged to tenants or the poor service they experienced?

    In my experience with all due respect to them the vast majority of Landlords and especially tenants struggle to correctly complete any on-line forms they encounter so I hope Open Rent have fantsatically simple and efficient technical systems.

    I also hope they are employing plenty of service centre staff to deal with the telephone enquiries they will get.

    As in the Scottish fees and Sequence stories on LAT today charge the right fee and give value for an obvious service and most clients don't mind.

    • 10 May 2012 09:10 AM
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    I know many Landlords who use cheapo agreements to save money - it always ends in tears when something goes wrong - and who do they blame.....?

    • 10 May 2012 08:57 AM
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    @about time - How much does it cost Rightmove to publish my ads? Certainly not £4500 per month. The only paper they need is the contract I sign.

    We charge tenants cost of references plus a few quid for our time and input. The print cost of tenancy agreements is one thing - the cost of compliance, PI Insurance, legals, CMP etc has top be factored in.

    You moan at agents - I wish we made 85% profit like Rightmove - odd you persecute an industry currently suffering rather than a monopoly.

    • 10 May 2012 08:56 AM
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    As with any service, it has to be offered above cost price in order for a business to function. Of course it doesn't cost £200 to print off a tenancy agreement, nor does it cost 100s for referencing. However what "about time" fails to mention is the man hours on wasted viewings, office costs, boards, staff salaries and so forth. If we were to charge a small markup on everything that we do, this in order to keep charges "reasonable" we would have to charge £10 for a viewing, £1 for every call answered and made, and so forth.

    The same applies when you go to the supermarket, your bananas will be cheap whereas your oranges may be expensive, this to subsidise the discounts elsewhere. With estate agencies the expensive tenancy agreements and the like subsidise free viewings and also the whole "no result, no fee" model. This is a model that customers expect from estate agents.

    There is certainly a market for these DIY models, but quite frankly the more I speak to landlords who have given it a try come back to me because they realise it's more time consuming and involved than they thought initially. If they can do the job themselves, well done, but I don't see everyone carrying out their own car repairs simply due to the availability of various mechanic manuals available online, so I trust this will have little impact on good established agents that know what they do inside out. People will pay for experience and the reassurance the job is done properly.

    • 10 May 2012 08:52 AM
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    @about time

    Wow is that how you much you got charged?!!! Yes you got ripped off certainly. We don't charge anywhere near that

    Agents will always be around

    This is just another upad - an idea that's already out there

    • 10 May 2012 08:47 AM
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    Rightmove etc shouldn't allow it. The portals are for agents only yet 'online' agents are also allowed therefore inturn allowing landlords

    It shouldn't happen but rightmove etc will accept because they are greedy bastards and they'll want the cash!!

    • 10 May 2012 08:42 AM
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    These idiot agents are all fleecing sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants!!!

    Credit checks for tenants cost the agent just £11 but they charge £200+.

    Printing a tenancy agreement off costs just 10p per sheet of printed paper.

    They rip everyone off!!!

    About time someone offered a great service for just £99.

    Agents will end up like Clinton Cards !!! BUST!!!

    • 10 May 2012 08:38 AM