You’ve probably recently stumbled upon the name OpenRent, the ridiculously cheap online letting agent that sounds too good to be true.
So now you’re fumbling around the internet, doing the research, trying to work out how it all works, and whether OpenRent is a viable option to help you find your next tenants.
You’ve come to the right place.
But first, before getting into the meat and potatoes…
Current OpenRent Special Offer
OpenRent are currently offering a FREE 5 day trial for their tenant-find service, which includes getting your vacant property listed on Rightmove! No strings attached (as the review below explains).
The purpose of this blog post is to provide some much-needed clarity to ease the minds of landlords that find themselves grossly suspicious of OpenRent’s free trial offer, which claims to advertise your rental property on Rightmove and Zoopla…. for FREE.
Yup, free FREE!
No doubt, the suspicion is thoroughly justified, because when something sounds too good to be true – especially when dealing with letting agents- it usually is, and it often results in paying through the ass because the small-print was… err.. too small, and hidden away in a dark corner somewhere.
I’ve used OpenRent to find tenants a few times, so let me give you the lowdown.
Is OpenRent a scam, is there a catch?
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… no credit card details required? Yup, 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.
I can’t really be clearer; OpenRent’s free trial is genuinely legit, and there are no obligations to continue using their services after the trial. If you wish to continue using their services after the free trial, you’ll need to pay a very reasonable £29 for a further three months worth of advertising on Rightmove and the alike.
So if that’s what you wanted to hear, then go ahead and use their free trial. There’s nothing to fear.
However, if you need more of an explanation and you’re interested in some more details, follow me…
How was my experience with OpenRent? Did I find tenants for free?
I most recently used OpenRent earlier this year, and I took advantage of their free trial.
With in no time at all I had registered myself as a landlord, submitted my property details via their online control panel and found my property listed on both Rightmove and Zoopla. I did NOT have to enter any credit card details.
With in a couple of days I had received a dozen or so enquiries in the form of emails and voice-messages, which was amazing. I must add, the property I listed is located in a highly sought after area, and demand outstrips the supply 10-fold.
In theory, I could have probably found tenants for free during the 5 day trial period. However, I happily ended up paying the £29 for an extra 3 months service, and I’ll explain way…
I like to give all suitable applicants the opportunity to view the property, so that way I have a greater pool of tenants to choose from. Plus, it’s incredible how disappointing some applicants end up being, despite how good they appear on paper. So even though I had whittled the shortlist down to about 5 or 6, there was still no guarantee that any of them would tickle my pickle.
The viewings spanned over a week, which meant I wouldn’t get to meet everyone during the trial period, and the golden rule is to never stop the hunt until contracts have been signed and a deposit has been received. I would NEVER recommend putting the breaks on marketing until tenants have been absolutely confirmed, simply because deals breaking and situations changing is overwhelmingly common.
I suspect that while many landlords do find tenants during the 5 day trial, I also believe many end up paying the upgrade fee; it’s unlikely most landlords will receive enquiries, take viewings and sign contracts with in 5 days! In that case, most sensible landlords will pay the measly £29 upgrade fee to prolong the Rightmove & Zoopla listings.
In conclusion, I used OpenRent’s free trial and received a buttload of enquiries, but ended up upgrading because I wanted to continue receiving enquiries in case any a deal didn’t materialise. However, I did end up signing an awesome tenant that applied during the trial period, and the deal was complete with in 2 weeks, all for £29.
Honestly, total bargain.
Quick tip/note for using OpenRent
Not only during my recent experience, but also previous times, I found myself inundated with enquiries, but I did notice the quality in enquiries drastically varied- some were frustratingly poor, while others were decent! Consequently, I found myself wasting a lot of time with the chaff.
OpenRent pushes their stock onto Gumtree, so I suspect many of the poor quality enquiries stem from there (Gumtree is notorious for generating less than desirable applications, although a great platform for lead generation, no doubt). Fortunately, OpenRent have an “Advanced tenant screening” option, and once that’s enabled, applicants are required to answer more questions before applying. Naturally, it slows down the enquiries, but I find the quality massively improves.
So if you find yourself in a similar situation- being drowned by garbage- perhaps try enabling the feature!
The most popular UK online letting agent?
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 amazement of other online agents), OpenRent are now arguably the most popular UK online letting agent (they’re currently advertising over 2,500 properties on Rightmove), and they’ve 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 menu…
‘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…
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 (for also, quite frankly, peanuts), then the ‘Rent Now’ package if 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). But the real gem is the optional monthly rent collection service which comes bundled into the package (i.e. there are NO additional charges or monthly fees for the service, it’s included in the one-off fixed fee of £49): OpenRent will collect rent from your tenant, and as soon as the rent hits their account, they will instantly send the rent to you. If your tenant is late on rent, they’ll notify you automatically, and chase the tenant on your behalf.
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?
During the extremely rare cases where an unbelievable offer proves to be 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 myself from concern, 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 agentsbusinesses 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.
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.
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.