OpenRent: profile of the UK’s largest online lettings agency

OpenRent is the UK’s largest online lettings agency. Founded in 2012 by Oxford University alumni Daz Bradbury and Adam Hyslop, London-based OpenRent provides landlords with a platform to market their properties directly to tenants at low cost.

Tenants using the site benefit from verified listings and direct landlord contact (bypassing the hassle of using an agency), plus zero admin fees (the UK average, according to OpenRent, is £337).

OpenRent champions a new level of transparency in its model and touts one main mission, to make renting fairer, safer and cheaper for everyone. Landlords get support in creating their listing (which can appear across multiple rental portals, including Rightmove, Zoopla and Gumtree) and finding the right tenant, as well as the legal requirements that come with managing a rental property.

In summer 2014 the business closed an alleged multi-million ‘media for equity’ investment from Northern and Shell Ventures, and in March 2017 benefited from £4.4 million in backing from Rocket Internet’s venture arm Global Founders Capital. It’s clearly a model that investors are willing to get behind.

And it’s a model landlords and tenants are willing to get behind, too. Its early success meant that in 2015 OpenRent was propelled into the position of biggest letting agent, and more than 802,000 people have since registered with the site, which advertised more than 50,000 properties last year alone. With an average of just seven days to let a property, the service is clearly meeting demand, bringing renting into the 21st century.

The team at OpenRent

OpenRent Key statistics

  • Properties currently available: 3,063
  • Average rent: £1,166
  • Average listing age: Four weeks
  • Number of registered users: 802,114

OpenRent fees and services

OpenRent is free to use as a tenant (although there’s a £20 charge for referencing, at the landlord’s discretion). For landlords, the first advert is free, after which there are three packages available.

OpenRent Only is 100% free. This includes a listing on OpenRent, free enquiries and access to a viewings organiser for up the three months per listing.

OpenRent Advertising costs a flat rate of £29. This includes everything OpenRent Only does, but also places the advertisement on Rightmove, Zoopla, Gumtree and other rental websites. Landlords can trial this package for free before committing.

OpenRent Advertising + Rent Now costs £49, and is billed as a ‘professional grade tenancy creation service’. In addition to advertising, this package takes care of referencing, contracts and deposit handling via OpenRent’s secure platform. The company simply sends an email or SMS whenever the landlord’s input is needed. To get started, tenants just click the green ‘Rent Now’ button on the property listing page and pay a £200 holding deposit. OpenRent lets the landlord know, allowing them to accept an application to get started, or reject it if they’d prefer to keep looking for other tenants.

Once an application is accepted, landlords can ask OpenRent to obtain references or go straight to contract signing. If a landlord opts for references (over 90% do, according to the company), OpenRent will get the tenants fully checked, and the landlord can decide if they’re happy or not with the references that come back. If successful, OpenRent then helps get the contracts signed, holding deposit registered, and the tenancy set up.

In addition to these packages, OpenRent offers a wide range of extra services for one-off payments ranging between £20 and £85, including:

  • Standalone referencing
  • Gas safety certificate
  • Energy performance certificate
  • Electrical safety certificate
  • Inventories
  • Check in/check out
  • Professional photos and floor plans.

OpenRent also offers a number of landlord insurance products, such as rent guarantee insurance and buildings & contents cover, from £55.

Market position

OpenRent is one of the first generation of online lettings agencies, and it’s setting the bar high. Compared to its main competitors, its prices are low and customer feedback is high. Of nearly 1,000 reviews on independent reviews website TrustPilot, OpenRent scores 9.5/10 – an ‘excellent’ rating. Recent feedback includes:

“Originally very sceptical, but fantastic service, easy to set up, very professional” – Kevin Cooper, 21/08/17.

“A simple, well designed service for independent landlords like us. OpenRent provides excellent value and an easy to navigate portal, allowing us to communicate clearly with potential tenants. We will use again and would recommend without hesitation” LS Carr, 20/08/17.

“This is such a useful and efficient service for private landlords. I love the way that you can pick and choose the services that you need and everything works like clockwork. Thanks OpenRent – you never fail to help me find the right tenant” – Michael Hayes, 09/08/17.

What OpenRent says

“OpenRent gives you the best possible chance of finding your ideal tenant, and you stay in control.”

“OpenRent harnesses technology to make renting a property more convenient, safer and cheaper than ever before. We don’t believe any other site out there does this in a meaningful way.”

“OpenRent has always had one mission: to make renting fairer, safer and cheaper for everyone.

More about OpenRent

For more information visit the OpenRent website

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