OpenRent Letting Agent Review & Free Trial Offer 2017

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OpenRent Letting Agents

The purpose of this blog post is to provide clarity by answering some FAQs that have been swirling around my inbox recently from fellow landlords, about OpenRent, one of UK’s most popular online letting agents.

OpenRent are currently offering a free trial period, which allow landlords to market their property on Rightmove to find tenants, and understandably that’s got some people confused. An offer like that does sound too good to be true, especially while other agents charge a fee for the same privilege. So it comes to no real surprise that many landlords are suspicious/wary of the offer. The obvious questions have been circulating, is it actually legit? Is there a catch? Will I get bitten by hidden fees? What the hell is going on?!

Instead of replying to everyone individually (which takes more time than I care to lose), I thought I’d quickly whip up a review of OpenRent and their services. Actually, it’s more of an overview, so you know exactly what the deal is.

Ok, so now that’s out of the way, let’s get this show on the road…

The quick demise of most online letting agents

It seems like these online letting agents are popping up all over the place like a bad case of genital herpes, and breeding at excessive rates like farmers back in the 20s.

But in this case, most of them don’t stick around.

Not for long anyways.

I’d say 90% of them burn to the ground in flames after a year or so of trying desperately to capture some market share. But inevitably, the reality of how not-so-easy it is to stay afloat with a model that is under the mercy of the insanely inexpensive fees of the major property portals, which all online agents NEED to market landlords properties on (e.g. Rightmove, Zoopla & Gumtree), quickly takes it’s choke-hold on the finances.

Most of those starting-up factor in and absorb the fees with the investment capital, with the intention of eventually gaining enough traction and repeat custom to cover the costs. But tragically, the capital is usually exhausted before making it to the green zone. Why? Because online lettings is bloody hard, mostly because the turnaround for filling a rental property is generally quick, so agents need to be constantly getting new properties in the books! That’s a tall order when you’ve just entered the market and have zero respect, and then the pressure quickly becomes rather exasperating, so often ‘surrendering’ is the least painful way to exit.

In come OpenRent and their ballsy low-costs

The million dollar question…

Is OpenRent a scam? The short answer: NO.

Is the free trial actually “free”… no strings attached… no dodgy small-print? That’s correct.

So I could end up marketing my property on the biggest property portals in the UK (e.g. Rightmove, Zoopla and Gumtree etc.) and consequently find tenants without spending a penny, all through OpenRent’s free trial offer? Exactly.

So go ahead and use their free trial.

But if you need more of an explanation, follow me…

OpenRent appeared on my radar back in 2011, when they first entered the market with their very shocking low cost of £20, which included your property being marketed on Rightmove– by far the cheapest offering on the market, and a real threat to their competitors, who were mostly shifting similar packages at around the £50 mark.

Personally, I thought there was a catch or a devastating miscalculation. It just seemed too good to be true.

I speculated that they would topple over like most other agents that tried to grab the market share quickly and aggressively with unsustainable offers, and/or they had scaled back on good and vital customer services to cover their running costs. Either way, the setup looked destined for failure.

5 or so years later… to my surprise (and perhaps to the surprise of other online agents also), OpenRent have left behind a strong trail of positive reviews and are still offering mind-blowing rates that continue to blow the competition out of the water.

I’m not usually one to mince my words or hype bullshit, and you can read many of my other blog posts to certify that claim. So believe me when I say, OpenRent are the real deal, and I haven’t heard a bad word about them from anyone, especially other landlords.

How OpenRent works & their current FREE trial explained

Most of you should already know how online agents work. If not, you can find out the details over here for a complete guide on online letting agents.

Now, let’s take a closer look at OpenRent’s offerings…

OpenRent Packages & Prices

OpenRent Packages & Prices

‘OpenRent Only’ package- IGNORE IT!
I would personally ignore the “FREE” package- even as enticing as “always free” sounds- because that package only markets your property on their internal website (i.e. not on Rightmove or Zoopla). That’s a garbage service as far as I’m concerned, and it’s no surprise it’s free (but I get why it’s there). I’ve already emphasised the importance of marketing vacant BTL properties on Rightmove– and there is no substitute for it.

If you want the best chance of filling your vacant BTL property and finding tenants quickly- get your property on Rightmove. That’s it.

The most popular ‘Ultimate Advertising’ FREE Trial package
This is the package I get questioned about the most, because it comes with a free trial, yet it remarkably comes with all of the below…

OpenRent FREE Package

OpenRent FREE Package

But let explain and clarify for your own peace of mind…

  • The trial is for 5 days. Their service and everything listed above is free with in those 5 days.
  • After the free trial you do NOT have to pay anything unless you wish to continue using their service (more explained below).
  • The free trial is only available to “first time” users. If you have already taken advantage of their services, you will be subject to their £29 fee, which includes the exact same offering as the free trial, but for 3 months (still extremely reasonable).
  • Your vacant property WILL get listed on Rightmove, Zoopla & Gumtree (usually with in 24 hours), and believe me when I say that 5 days is generally MORE than enough time to generate a buttload of enquiries… unless you’re trying to shift a piece-of-shit death-trap in the middle of nowhere, that is. But ultimately, you could end up finding tenants without spending a penny during the free trial.
  • You’re NOT tied into any contracts, so you won’t be held accountable to pay any fees during the free trial.
  • There are NO hidden or extra fees, like extortionate tenancy renewal fees, check-in fees etc!
  • You don’t need to enter any credit card or payment details (it’s always sketchy and nerve wracking when free trials require payment details)!

What if I don’t find tenants in 5 days and want to market my property for longer? Ok, good question. Of course, there’s a chance you may not find the perfect tenants with in 5 days.

In this case, you have the option of paying £29 (that includes VAT) to extend their service for an extra 3 months. That’s still currently cheaper than any other online agent offering a similar package. This is the time when you will be required to enter your credit card details.

Advertising & Rent now package, the £49 package
If you want more of a premium service, this is the one for you- it includes all the extras listed in the diagram above. All pretty useful stuff, which takes care of more of the administrative responsibilities (e.g. securing the tenancy deposit). And again, the price really is very reasonable.

I must emphasise though, this package is NOT part of the “Free trial” offering, but you will have the option to “upgrade” to the premium package after the free trial if you wish to extend the service. It’s your call.

How are they able to offer such low prices & still survive?

When something sounds too good to be true, it generally is… we all know that.

But in those rare cases when the offer is true and pure, I need to understand why, don’t you? I literally need to, otherwise I’ll forever be looking for that trip-wire and unlikely to convert into a customer. The looming concern of being caught out by the small-print would definitely wreak havoc.

So to relieve me from my concerns, and perhaps yours too, I’ve spoken directly to one of the co-founders to gain a better understanding of what the hell is going on, and how they’re able to make their business model financially viable under the circumstances. Having heard their side, I’m now informed enough to explain it to you, so you can join the dots for yourself.

They’re able to offer FREE trials and the cheapest rates thereafter (to my knowledge), while not compromising on customer service, because of three main reasons…

  • 1) In-house technical skills – one of the biggest costs of starting and running any online service/website is developing and maintaining the technical infrastructure. Fortunately, one of the founding-members of OpenRent is a technical genius, so the only real start-up cost of developing the website was his time (which I’m not devaluing, but there was no hard cash required). So straight away a large portion of that cost was eradicated. That said, they have massively evolved since their start-up days, so they do now have a team of technical-monkeys steering the ship, not just one socially inept geek.

    From what I know, most online letting agent founders aren’t website developers, they’re letting agents and/or landlords, so they have to take a HUGE hit on development costs.

  • 2) Automation – I guess this is an extension of the above factor, and achieved because of the technical abilities they have at their disposal.

    While they do have full-time phone support available and real people replying to emails, their system is extremely automated, meaning less human interference is required, which means less employed manpower.

    Now, don’t misconstrue that as a negative, because it’s not. All I’m saying is that they have automated their system so well that there’s very little reason for anyone to pick up the phone and ask for support, because their automated system takes care of most of the operational procedures, and keeps landlords fully in the loop with live status updates.

  • 3) Upselling other products – they make a large chunk of change from upselling other products beyond their bread and butter “Tenant find service“, such as drawing up contacts, EPC’s and Gas Safety Checks.

    To be honest, most other online agents businesses do the same. They probably wouldn’t survive without the upsells.

  • 4) Great service – they’re so sure their service is spectacular that they’re confident you’ll return to use their service over and over, only you won’t mind paying their regular fees you’ll be subject to next time. Basically, they’ll profit from repeat business.

That all makes sense.

This sounds like a sales pitch!

Believe me, it’s not.

As said, I’m not here to sell anything, and I don’t hype bullshit.

Most online letting agents approach me with an enticing sales pitch, because they want to be added to my list of online letting agents table. I refuse 98% of them (that’s why my list is very limited), even when they try to twist my arm with financial compensation. Unless I understand, use and/or believe they are providing a valuable service to landlords, I’m not interested. That’s the bottom line.

So, go ahead and try OpenRent’s FREE trial if you were unsure, they’re legit.

I’m not actually sure how long the free trial will be available for, but next time you need to find tenants it’s well worth seeing if the offer is still available.

Tenant Referencing…

Don’t forget!

Seriously, do not forget!

Regardless of who or what service you use to find tenants, ensure you ALWAYS do thorough tenant referencing. Referencing is the one area where I recommend every landlord to be most diligent, because allowing poor tenants to slip through the net can be one of most excruciatingly painful experiences.

Your thoughts…

So, out of genuine curiosity, have you used OpenRent? If so, please provide your feedback below. Similarly, if you’re thinking about using them, or have any questions regarding their service.

Also, please let me know how you get on if you decide to use them.

31 Comments- Join The Conversation...

1 out of 5 rating2 out of 5 rating3 out of 5 rating4 out of 5 rating5 out of 5 rating19 customers have rated their OpenRent experience.4.7 out of 5 Stars.Leave your Comment / Review
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Lyn Foll 21st September, 2015 @ 06:18
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I recently used OpenRent (their RentNow service) to market our London flat. I am a first time landlord & their help was invaluable. The flat was first advertised though OpenRent on Zoopla etc on a Thursday, we had several responses on the Friday including one from our eventual tenants. They moved in the following Saturday. I could not of managed all the references, certifications and contracts in such a short time without OpenRent. Their system advised me via email of the next steps throughout the process and I also spoke to them a couple of times and they were very helpful. To be fair the tenants needed to move in fast so they also worked hard to ensure the references were dealt with quickly.
I can highly recommend them.

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Jacqui 21st September, 2015 @ 06:22
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We used OpenRent in June this year. We took advantage of their free package and it actually does what it says on the tin! We had a great response and filled the tenancy in 1 week. As we are in Scotland, we could not take advantage of their full package "rent now" so we just used them as an advertising agency. We also used their credit check option which cost £20 for a fully comprehensive report.

I found them very professional and they responded to all my questions quickly and effectively. Couldn't ask for anything more really!

Definitely worth a try.

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Alastair 21st September, 2015 @ 06:28

Thanks for the background on openrent, I'm just trying to decide on this route for my minimal portfolio.

Could you set up a poll of the top 3/5/10 (?) online letting agents for you subscribers to have their say on who they feel is the best, without the usual horror stories and moaning, I've read enough of those already.

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Viv W 21st September, 2015 @ 06:30
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Openrent were excellent. When I reviewed them prior to using their services, I wondered if their landlord comments were really genuine but now I know they are! I got an excellent tenant on day 1, 5 viewings in total and job done. Didn't cost a penny. Used their credit reference team too and their electricity checks. Openrent knock spots off the rip-off fees high street agents charge and their automated website is SO efficient. Fab service. Just fab. Thank you.

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richard 21st September, 2015 @ 06:36
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Hia nice article.
I used Open Rent back when they first started up and was VERY HAPPY with their services and Professional yet personal approach. Whilst they did generate several Applicants, I let my son's property via 'word of mouth', as I consider the Tenants and Landlord should be mutually caring about the tenancy and the property.
Would most definitely recommend them to anyone who is unsure, their AST back then was very comprehensive and I would have happily used it, but I have my own.

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Malcolm Smith 21st September, 2015 @ 07:21

I have used OpenRent many times. I pay the £29 fee which gets my advert on Rightmove and Zoopla. What this review doesn't mention is that your advert will also go on Gumtree and gets a free "bump" every day. There is also a feature on OpenRent called "Rent Now". If a tenant likes a property they can go on the site press this button and after paying a holding deposit they can reserve the flat. The landlord still has the option of declining the tenant if the references don't work out. However, this is a great way of sorting out serious tenants from those who are not really interested. The website is also easy to use and it takes about 24 hours for them to get your ads on the sites.

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Mark Hodge 21st September, 2015 @ 07:34
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Wow, I used these guys to rent my house. RESULT. Inundated with would be tenants. Had prospects queueing like jumbo jets waiting to land at Heathrow. Not only did that property get snapped up within 5 days, but as we are now moving abroad ( 3 months later) I rang a couple who were disappointed to lose out on the property and asked if they wanted to rent the house we were living in. " we can't come round till after work this afternoon" I'll wait said I. They loved it more than the first house. Signed a two year agreement, the length of our contract abroad. BINGO, two houses rented for one free advert. Would recommend, use again, pay good money to use their service.

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Stefan 21st September, 2015 @ 08:03
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I used open rent a few months ago - EXCELLENT
The signup process was mega slick, the system to track and contact potential clients was excellent. I used the free trial, however I was then happy to pay to use their service for doing the contract, referencing etc. All in all I had maybe a dozen leads in the space of a week and rented the flat to someone for the princely sum of about £50 quid.

The flat was managed by a "Full service letting agent" who is getting the sack this month. They had been taking their 10%+VAT for the past 5 years for the guy who was in the above flat. When he moved out I went round and had a look.

It was a total shit hole, the skirting boards needed cleaning with a CHISEL. Sinks filthy, carpets filthy. I asked the letting agent to do an inspection, I didnt let them know I had been round.

I'll copy below their response below. Does this deserve 5 year of fees costing about £3200?

"...The property does need a full clean, however we feel that as the tenant was living there for 5 years and no interim cleaning was needed between tenancies for this period, no charge should be made from the tenants deposit...."

They are getting the sack for another property we have this month.

I will DEFINITELY use Open rent again.

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Robert Moseley 21st September, 2015 @ 08:14
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Used Open Rent 3 times, each time an excellent service and inundated with potential tenants, used the £20 reference search, very good service. Personally I won`t go any where else, as a private landlord Open Rent saves ££££`s

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mike 21st September, 2015 @ 08:23
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I've used OpenRent. Very happy. Used them to let my flat in London. It's my first BTL flat and I was planning to use an agent, but paying 10%+ for next to nothing was way too much. OpenRent were fantastic. When I had questions they emailed back quickly. Real people not some standard offshore template letter. Excellent.

One thing you don't mention above is the big advantage to the tenants. My tenants would have been charged hundreds of pounds for references, signing on fee, inventory etc if I'd used an agent. Instead they paid zilch apart from a small referencing fee (£20?). At renewal, same thing. Zero fees. So I have happy tenants who give me no hassle at all.

This sounds like I'm on commission now.

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Sharon 21st September, 2015 @ 09:51
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Used them a few times now and have found their website easy to use, and very effective at generating enquiries.

Will definetly use them again when I need new tenants.

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Eric Dickinson 21st September, 2015 @ 10:35

Nicely done. I'll be giving them a test run at some point soon. Many thanks

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 21st September, 2015 @ 11:10

Folks, thanks for all the feedback, really useful and reassuring. I'm sure it will help other landlords make their decision.

I've made some small adjustments to the post based on the feedback, so now it includes more relevant and useful information.

So once again, many thanks.

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Adam 21st September, 2015 @ 11:12
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I used OpenRent for my first ever rental, after getting quotes from high street agents i was staggered by the saving. i researched other online services but this one convinced me. i used them to arrange my landlord has cert and boiler service and was really impressed as it was half the price i had found elsewhere. I used their rent now product any my tenant even said how brilliant it was doing it all online. They were quick to respond to questions and i found their customer service to be one of the best i have used. I will be using them again.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 21st September, 2015 @ 11:17

@Adam
Good point, which perhaps I didn't talk enough about. Their extra add-ons they provide (e.g. gas safe checks, EPC's) are very reasonable priced as well.

Gas Safety Checks starting from £45... that's pretty sweet!

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Sanjay 21st September, 2015 @ 12:14
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I used Openrent a few months ago to let my flat. It was the cheapest online agents around, so was a bit skeptical ... but it was amazing!!

I took out their £49 service, which included their tenants reference checking / credit rating, online tenancy agreement and deposit holding scheme. I didn't use their inventory service as it was too expensive so I found an template online and did this myself. I used landlord-certificates.co.uk for the EPC, gas and electricity safety checks.

Within 3 days of listing my property I had already received 12 enquiries from good quality tenants and very few timewasters. After about 30 enquiries and 12 interviews and viewings it only took 3 weeks to let my property to a lovely family who are intending to stay long term and even decorated my flat for free.

I love OpenRent and would definitely recommend them and use them again in future.

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Julie 21st September, 2015 @ 12:25
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I used them in July and found my tenant within a few days. They were very professional and helpful and I loved the automated IT setup that they have in place. You receive the requests instantly, preventing you from losing possible tenants. This is a massive advantage over some other online agents, who batch the enquiries and by the time you respond, the tenants have moved on. I will definitely use them for my next let.

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Rayhan Rafiq Omar 22nd September, 2015 @ 09:11

Isn't it incredible that there is not a single negative comment here? I guess that in itself is a strong sign of quality.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 22nd September, 2015 @ 10:15

Sanjay, Julie, thanks for the feedback!

@Rayhan
Very incredible, especially since people are usually more eager to leave feedback when they have something to complain about. The fact no one has (so far), is a very positive sign.

But as said in the post, I've only ever heard good things about OpenRent, although as with all service based companies, I'm sure there are a few dissatisfied customers lurking (rightly or wrongly so).

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Tesa 22nd September, 2015 @ 10:37

Thanks Landlord. I was one of the cynics that thought there was a catch. Free lunches scare me by instinct :-)

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Owen Temple 30th September, 2015 @ 22:54
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I used Openrent as a first-time and less than enthusiastic landlord. I can't fault them. I used the £49 service including referencing and documentation and consider it fantastic value. Something doesn't have to be free to be great! So pleased with it I recommended Openrent to my son who had exactly the same experience.
Oh yes, and we've got tenants we're very happy with - which is important when they are your neighbours as well!

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john 16th February, 2016 @ 23:58

Posted info Sunday this evening Tuesday so far swamped with emails voice messages texts over the moon with incredible speed of results I went for full package vetting ast ect awesome value for money and as mentioned good value for tenants a win win for all a real game changer. goodbye pricey letting agents hello open rent the future of letting:-)

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Jeremy 23rd May, 2016 @ 21:49
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I have used Openrent twice and both times I was very impressed with the quality of service. I have found excellent tenants on both occasions from a considerable choice. Curiously, I was recommended to use them by a letting agent salesman, after I had had a particularly bad experience with tenants introduced by their agency and very good advice it has proved to be.

Interestingly when I was letting second occasion,one of the numbers listed as interested in my property was that of a letting agency as they called me to ask whether I wanted any help marketing the property: I explained to him that I would not want to pay his organisation 1 months rent plus VAT to find cr*p tenants when I could find my own for far less. He muttered something about I must have had a bad experience with letting agencies and went away. I will definitely use them again.

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Szilard 12th October, 2016 @ 15:06

Its amazing that there's no negative reviews.well i have one.was looking for a house,but every time that i found one and made enquiries i just never got any reply back.so this is so useless that's not even funny

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 12th October, 2016 @ 15:19

@Szilard
Ahh, that must be frustrating. But I'm assuming that actually has nothing to do with OpenRent's service in itself- it's down to the landlord's to respond to the enquiries.

OpenRent will pass on the enquiries, but they can't force the landlord to respond to your enquiries.

Also worth noting, you're coming at the service from a tenant's point of view, not the landlord (the people using and paying for the service).

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Mike 9th November, 2016 @ 08:28
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Openrent are fantastic. Simple business model that works perfectly. The fees are fair and the customer service is excellent. No team of cheap offshore people sending stock replies. I've sent emails a few times and always got a prompt and helpful response from someone that knows the business. So important.
What has kept me loyal is that they are fair and don't screw you on upsells and extras. I use their referencing and inventory service, but they have no problem at all with you using your own. Good company. Openrent if you are reading this, great job and don't change a thing. You deserve to do well.

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Martin 16th December, 2016 @ 21:09
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First Time landlord stumbled upon Open Rent, After Deciding was not going to pay silly amounts of money for a Poor Service from Estate Agent with No Come Back or support if any thing went wrong !

Used Open Rent FULL services and found there advice very helpful
A few daft people did manage to get though there very efficient filtering system
but I politely said No Way, D.H.S, H.B, AND ONE idiot asking as he had got his girl friend pregnant could he have greatly reduced rent ?
Sure you can imagine what politely said !!
THEY ALWAYS get back to you in 24 hrs, How many Company's Do This ???
IF EVERY COMPANY IN BRITAIN FOLLOWED OPEN RENT'S CUSTOMER CARE
BRITAIN WOULD BE BETTER PLACE !!
AND NO I DO NOT WORK FOR OPEN RENT !!

Referencing service excellent, and fast they check every thing
WILL definitely USE THEM AGAIN !!
MARTIN

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Alan 11th April, 2017 @ 09:32
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I am currently using openrent to find a tenant. Their system is well automated and logical once you have used it a few times. One thing that isn't clear to start with is that general inquiries that come from some sites include very little information, and i had at least one without a name which can be a tad disconcerting.

So while I can see Szilard point of view i can also understand any landlords reluctance to contact applicants that provide little information.

From the landlords perspective the way to avoid this is to switch on the advanced tenant screening option. This may mean fewer inquiries but those you get should be better quality and meet your advertised expectation.

In regard to response level so far i have had 6 inquiries in 4 days with 2 viewings booked. This is better than i expected. I also used their inventory service / condition report which runs to 37 pages on an unfurnished 2 bed property so quite detailed.

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Sally 24th April, 2017 @ 14:14
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I've used Open rent to let two properties. I cannot rate them highly enough. In fact it does not make sense to use another agency! Both of my properties are in excellent condition so I know that there will be minimal issues for the tenant (if any) so there is no point in me paying someone to "manage" them when in effect there is nothing to manage. I opt for the tenant referencing for peace of mind have rented my properties for full market value. One I rented for £200 per month more than what brick and mortar letting agents were telling me it was worth. They need to cover their costs and want a quick profit, I want and need to earn a living. In both properties the tenants have no been in situ for 3 years. I do have one other property that I gave to one of the largest letting agents in the city - the hassle I'm having is phenomenal. They personally vouched for the tenant (who sneakily moved in her dog) and gave me a contract which means there is no break clause for me at all. The tenant removed new carpets and bathroom, painted a new mahogany fireplace, and tore out the doors - all to suit her taste, not because they were at at fault. The agent are defending the tenant stating the house was in disrepair (it wasn't.) To add salt to the wound I reduced the rent by £600 per annum because I was told that the tenant was virtually homeless after a messy divorce. I've been suckered by a high street agent and I will NEVER use one again. In the meantime Openrent have been awesome. No problems with the tenants. When I've been unsure about anything I've sent them an email and received prompt responses. I just can't fault them! Once I'm out of this current letting agent contract this property too is going on Openrent - I can't wait!

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Mass 30th May, 2017 @ 21:52
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They are very inaccurate in processing applications
And it's not important for openrent to reach real informations about thier customers and so they don't spend more than 5 days for referencing a tenant and try to fail the referencing by sending wrong informations to landlords and rejecting the tenants application by response from landlords to tenants and taking only and only all these wrong things they do for getting £20/tenant not more than 5 days spend period for each application and repeating again for the same tenant.
But thier big fault of openrent is distributing of false informations from one sector of public to other sector of public . Which is very dangerous for society. They hide informations which send from tenants to landlords and vice versa . Because the informations is not true and only cause the rejection of applications in a timely manner routine not more than 5 days.
and so more income from the same tenant and repealing this loop again and again.
Thanks for reading

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Nicola 17th October, 2017 @ 09:58
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Amazing, found tenants with in the 5 day free period so didn't pay a penny! Very happy with tenants.

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