The UK’s largest letting agency by size of listings OpenRent has launched a free rent collection service, the first agency in the UK to do so.
Tenants are asked to pay their rent directly to OpenRent via their bank and the money is passed on to the landlord instantly. But neither landlord nor tenant are charged a fee for the service and landlords are sent an email as soon as the transaction has completed, the company says.
“One of the assumptions we come up against a lot is that things we do for free or very cheaply must be costing us a lot of money to provide because other agents charge large fees for them,” says spokesperson Sam Hurst.
“Like referencing, writing up a contract, or securing a tenancy deposit, we’re able to offer rent collection without charging hundreds of pounds a year. ”
OpenRent will also chase tenants for their rent if they fail to pay it on the agreed date and introduce landlords to eviction specialists if they stop paying their rent completely.
“We’ve built it because it’s something landlords have asked for, so we know it will be a useful addition to our Rent Now product,” says Hurst
Rent payment chasing
Its rental collection service is available only through its Rent Now service. Tenants click a button on a property’s listing page and the process of renting the property begins automatically via email and SMS after they’ve paid a £200 holding deposit, one of the few fees agents will be able to charge tenants after the tenant fees ban.
OpenRent was launched in 2012 and says it has processed 243,646 tenancies so far and signed up 94,907 landlords.
It became the largest letting agency by size of listings overtaking Countrywide three years ago, a position its online-only service has retained. It currently has 4,251 properties available to rent on Zoopla, far more than its nearest online rival Upad at 745, and is about to hit 100,000 properties let this year.
Upad has also just launched a rent collection service, a proprietary system to collect rental payments via Direct Debit. Called Rent Manager, it s a Direct Debit controlled rent collection system that will provide landlords with the assurance each month that their tenant’s rent will be paid on time. Upad’s new system places a ‘hold’ on the money three days in advance of the payment being made, so the landlord is provided with the assurance of receiving the funds on time.