The Rise & Fall Of Upad.co.uk. But Mostly The Fall.


Upad closes!

Well, fuck me sideways and stick a fork in me. I’m shocked, but I’m kinda’ really not!

On the 11th October 2019, Upad.co.uk, one of UK’s most popular and longest serving online letting agents, officially waved the white flag and pulled the plug on accepting “new business”

I presume that means she’s with her maker now.

R.I.P, ma’ lady.

Current Upad Customers

First and foremost, if you’re currently using Upad’s service, you should read the FAQ they have released

Secondly, both 99home.co.uk and LettingAProperty.com have reached out to me after hearing the tragic news. They want me to let you know that they’re both offering all Upad clients FREE Rightmove/Zoopla listings. Mighty generous! Please, go bite their hands off.

Thirdly, if you have a tenant referencing file open with Upad, you can contact LandlordforLegal.co.uk directly, they will be happy to assist.

Finally, if you’re looking for a Upad replacement service, here is a list of them.

Please drop a comment below if you have any questions or find yourself in a terrifying bind! I’ll try my best to assist where I can, and I’m sure others will, too.

So, what happened?

Now, onto the mess…

Earlier this week on Twitter, I started detecting signs of encroaching disaster; it was obvious shit had hit the fan and something ugly was unveiling at Upad HQ:

I’ve always been a massive fan of Upad – despite their gut-wrenching, noncompetitive prices – because of their solid customer service. It’s the one reason I felt entirely comfortable recommending their services to you. Yup, I knew you’d have to cough up more cheese if you used them over their rivals, but I also knew you would be in safe hands. They were an ideal solution for any landlord trying out an online letting service for the first time.

So as soon as I heard that Upad’s customers were being shunned like lepers, I strongly suspected that it was game over. I knew it, I was just waiting for the official confirmation before I proceeded gossiping like a little girl.

Now that it’s been made official, simply, a mixed bag of emotions from my end:

  • Surprised
  • Disappointed
  • Bitter
  • Not surprised (why I think Upad went to shit)!

Surprised

I didn’t see it happening this week. I really didn’t.

I was certainly taken aback by the news.

That said, I’m not entirely surprised it happened. But I’ll get to that shortly.

Disappointed

I’m disappointed for a few different reasons in a few different ways:

  • I’m disappointed it happened.

    I’ve always had a positive relationship with Upad in terms of their service and the people behind the company. They constantly provided me with exclusive discount codes and promos so I could share them with you, and I will forever be grateful for that.

    I’ve successfully used Upad on several occasions and I’ve always felt I received value. I didn’t get any special treatment; they didn’t even know I was using their service most of the time. I was just a regular customer, minding my own business.

    Everyone I ever dealt with has been nice (from what I remember, anyways). I’ve personally engaged with the CEO, James Davies, on many occasions over the years, and he’s always been a top geezer. He’s always been optimistic and lively.

    Me and James regularly used to meet at his favourite Pizza gaff on Oxford Circus, where I’ve watched him throw an ungodly amount of melted mozzarella down his gullet for pleasure. I think there was a pizza-base and a couple of tomatoes under the gooey mesh somewhere, but I never actually saw it with my own eyes. Good guy, loves cheese! I hope we continue to stay in touch and indulge. Other than a couple of very short text message exchanges Thursday afternoon, I haven’t spoken to him, but I plan to shortly.

    I feel for James and the entire team; I’m sure this has been a devastating blow. For James in particular, of course, because I know Upad was his baby. I’m sure he’s suffering. My deepest condolences goes out to him.

    Above all, I’m disappointed because we have lost a genuinely great service.

  • I’m disappointed by how it happened.

    I don’t understand the process of closing down a company – hopefully I never will – but I appreciate there is a legal and practical path to take in these circumstances. I imagine there was a last minute scramble to pump life back into the old girl, sparing her from the brink of death, which is why complete silence may have been the advised route to take.

    However, from a purely human and moral standpoint, I didn’t like what I saw: landlords left in the lurch, not knowing what was happening, and not knowing where to turn. I’m sure I only saw a small fraction of the panic. Upad seem to have come to a jarring standstill on Monday, and since then none of their customers have been able to receive support.

    I didn’t like that at all.

    People will lose money, not just because they paid for a service they won’t receive, but in other, perhaps more critical and concerning ways. For example, I was contacted on Twitter by someone that had paid for Upad’s ‘tenant-find’ and ‘compliance’ service, which ensures all the legal paperwork is in place. He had successfully found a tenant, but the paperwork had not been complete, and he wasn’t sure what he needed to do in order to comply with the law, particularly in regards to the tenancy deposit’s prescribed information.

    Fortunately I was able to put my superhero pants on and point him in the right direction, but what about everyone else who paid Upad for their compliance service? Will many just end up failing to meet their obligations? Perhaps.

    As said, I don’t know if it had to end the way it did from a legal or practical standpoint, but I don’t think it would have been impossible to turn the lights off with a little more class.

    The silent treatment was not cool. I ‘spose I expected more from a company that excelled in customer service, even in their darkest hours, right until the last breath.

    I also managed to catch a string of disgruntled Tweets from an ex Upad staff member that was in the thick of the crisis; he didn’t seem too pleased with how it all went down either. I don’t want to comment too much on internal matters, but I believe the staff were just as surprised and fucked off caught off-guard as much as their customers by events that took place this week.

    From the little I could puzzle together, it seems like one day Upad was open, the next day the staff and customers were being shooed away like a rancid cluster of farts.

Bitter

  • I now have to untangle and remove all traces of Upad recommendations from my website. That shit is going to take forever and a day; their brand and promos are literally scattered all over the place like maggots, including the very edges, and darkest of crevices. I’m mortified by the position I’ve found myself in.
  • I love you guys, you know I do. I adore shooting the shit with you. You guys are fun.

    But I only published a new blog post last week, so I wasn’t expecting to get high-off-my-tits on caffeine in order to smash together another until next month. Hell, I may have even stretched my leave until early 2020. Either way, I certainly wasn’t expecting to engage twice in the space of one week.

    I’m seriously struggling to decide who is the biggest victim in all this.

    Fuck it, I’ll say it, it’s me!

    Coffee donations welcome.

  • Up until earlier this week, I have been recommending Upad’s services through previously written blog posts, automated emails and promo banners (which have all either been demolished or updated, I hope), so there’s a good chance I’m responsible for pointing people towards a dead end.

    I started removing all the Upad promotional material as soon as I suspected there was trouble in paradise; I didn’t even wait for the coroner’s report. The fact Upad were giving their customers the silent treatment was enough of a sign for me to act quickly.

    Some of you may have noticed that I’ve also been faffing around on my social media accounts, reaching out to Upad customers; offering my support, and helping where I can, whether I refereed them to Upad or not. I wasn’t discriminating or doing it for personal gain, I was just desperate to wash away my sins and re-balance my Karma.

    I can only apologise, truly. I feel terrible if I lead anyone down the wrong shitty path.

    Like I said, if anyone is in a bind due to the fall of Upad, please reach out.

    Evidently, I wasn’t the only one quick to pull the trigger; the circling vultures took immediate advantage, hoping to profit from Upad’s predicament.

    I noticed theonlinelettingagents.co.uk frantically doing the rounds via their Twitter account, attempting to patch together the wounded soldiers. Amusing, but Fair play.

    Upad Vs theonlinelettingagents.co.uk

Not surprised (why I think Upad went to shit)!

I wasn’t surprised to hear the news. I really wasn’t.

While the why has yet to be confirmed, I can only imagine it had something to do with concerning financial woes. It usually always is in these cases. No one shuts shop in this way because they’re making more money than sense.

According to this article on propertyindustryeye.com, “Upad’s last accounts, for the year to end of March 2018, show that the business was over £1.4m in the red.”

Bear in mind, I don’t know the facts, but I will share a few of my thoughts based on my observations working with Upad and the industry in general over the years, which I believe relates to why we’re gathered here today, under these circumstances…

  • Investment: I don’t know how many investment rounds Upad did over the years, or how much they managed to raise, but it seems like they were surviving off raised capital from investors, and not revenue from sales.

    You can only do that for so long before investors start asking questions and cutting off the supply.

    If that was the case, their burn rate may have sucked resources dry and eventually choked them unconscious.

    What happens to those investors and their money now? I don’t really know to be honest. I suspect the same as when any gambler backs a losing horse…

  • Staff: I visited the Upad offices a few times, and every time I walked away thinking to myself: ‘why’ and ‘how’ the fuck is there so many members of staff? The number seemed grossly excessive!

    The overload of bodies explained how they were able to provide excellent customer support – that department in particular was stacked – but I couldn’t fathom how they were able to pay so many salaries. It seemed mental.

    They also had a stacked IT department, which you may think would make sense for a tech company, but it also seemed excessive. Software engineers and developers are not cheap at all.

    If money was the issue, or one of the primary contributing factors, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    I don’t consider Jay-Z to be a particularly profound individual, and he certainly doesn’t inspire me, but I remember watching an interview of his several years ago, and he said something that has always stuck with me. He was asked why he was so successful as a businessman. I don’t remember his exact response, so to paraphrase:

    I streamline my businesses.

    You see a lot of other music labels signing hundreds of artists but most of them never materialise. I don’t sign hundreds of recording artists to my label because there aren’t hundreds of good one’s out there. I only sign a couple of the best, because that’s all there is.

    I keep it streamline.

    I’m with you, Jigga man.

    For most small to medium sized businesses, I can’t help but believe streamlining is critical, even while trying to expand and take over the world. I hope that’s evident by the topics I cover on here – I always try to encourage you to streamline your landlord business, avoiding frivolous spending. Actually, that’s been the purpose and primary objective of this blog for as long as I can remember now.

    Case in point, my most recent blog posts include, saving money on energy bills by using auto-switch services and how to reference tenants cost-effectively. The list goes on.

    Just from visual observations, the maths didn’t seem to make sense whenever I walked into Upad’s HQ. Money seemed to be being spunked all over the place. I guess that’s easy enough when the money isn’t yours.

  • Competition: one beautiful word:

    OpenRent!

    OpenRent!

    OpenRent!

    They are killing it! I suspect their continuing dominance of the market had something to do with the fall of Upad, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more heads roll for the same reason.

  • Pricing: this is where I believe Upad got it all wrong; I think they tried to take advantage of a market they completely misunderstood.

    I remember when Upad were priced at a reasonable £40 (maybe even less at one point) several years ago. Over the years I have watched them aggressively raise prices while adding ZERO extra features. If anything, they started unbolting features while asking for more money. I remember thinking, “this is suicide”, although I did appreciate that they were investing heavily in their customer support infrastructure.

    By the time they closed their doors, their cheapest – and quite honestly, very bare – ‘tenant find’ product was a staggering £149 a pop, while everyone else was selling the same package for approx £50. Even if their customer service is worth that £99 extra, it’s insanely hard to win over new customers with an intangible commodity like ‘customer service’

    When you stick “We provide the best customer service” on the tin, it really doesn’t mean anything, especially when you’re trying to sell a product that’s based on the premise of being a cheap alternative [to high-street agents].

    By and large, landlords that use online letting agents are self-managing and price sensitive; they’re self-sufficient and looking for an effective way of getting their rental property listed on Rightmove & Zoopla for as little as possible. That’s it! Those types of landlords really don’t need the amount of support Upad invested in, in my opinion.

    So I believe they either didn’t understand the market, or they tried to create a market.

    By the end of it, I suspect Upad survived for as long as they did because of the loyalists they recruited in the early days and the few that trickled in after, but the numbers suggest they eventually found it extremely difficult to attract new customers and hold onto them, because they had priced themselves out of the market.

    I think one landlord said it best on my Facebook group:

    Upad Facebook comment

    I’m actually surprised this bat-shit madness went on for so long.

    Of course, the problem is, once you increase your prices to new heights, it’s terribly difficult to lower them again without damaging your product/brand, and possibly ego.

    If I was in that position, I personally would have taken a hammer to my ego: I would have listened to what the market was telling me; I would have scaled back, lowered my prices and focused on volume and upselling. Instead, it seems as though they kept squeezing more and more out of their faithful returning customers. It was difficult to watch, really.

    They didn’t have a USP, just a comparatively expensive product.

    Simply, when landlords were confronted with Upad’s bog standard Rightmove/Zoopla package for £149, next to OpenRent’s 5 day free trial (followed by a £29 fee), there was only ever going to be one man left standing.

  • Weird packages & terrible website: aesthetically, the latest version of their website was beautiful. Looked the part, for sure. However, from a UX perspective, it made me want to rip the hairs off my tits with a sledgehammer.

    I didn’t like their website at all, especially when they repackaged their products to the ‘uChoose’ product line; I found it so frustratingly confusing on many levels; it was difficult to know what they were actually trying to make us buy, mainly due to dire UX [that made me want to puke my guts out]. I won’t get into specifics, but take my word for it, if you will.

    The ‘uChoose’ product line was meant to “simplify” the process, but I think it did the complete opposite.

    I remember unloading my despair on Upad’s marketing guy one time, and his response was, “the UX is IT’s department.” I guess that was his way of telling me put my dick in my gob, because I was ruining his day with crap he didn’t care about. So I shut my piehole.

    I actually almost wrote an entire blog post about Upad’s terrifying UX (I was probably struggling for content ideas that month), detailing my every last gripe, because it tormented me to that unbearable degree. But then I realised no one really gives a shit. Then I wondered why I gave a shit. Then I stopped.

    Did this actually have anything to do with Upad’s current demise, or am I just moaning for the sake of it? Probably a bit of both. But I genuinely believe their website and the way they lined up their packages did them no favours at all, particularly to help recruitment.

The purpose of sharing my thoughts isn’t to kick Upad in the nuts while they’re decomposing 6th feet under. I have too much respect and gratitude for Upad to do that. But I do want to be completely honest and open about my thoughts (which may or may not be related to what’s happened).

The whole debacle is interesting to me. I come from a tech background and worked in a very similar company to Upad in many ways (different industry, though). Only, they survived and recently got purchased for a shitload of cheddar. Just saying.

Whatever happened didn’t happen over night. I don’t know how or why such an awesome company allowed themselves to get in such a mess, but it’s a dead shame.

Will Upad be back?

Upad’s brand will take a battering after this, but it will retain value [which will decline by the day]. So the question is, how much is it worth today?

My hunch is, behind the scenes, there are negotiations going on, or at least there is hope of negotiations, which will result in a resurrection in some form or another.

I say that because I found their closing statement… oddly optimistic! They didn’t actually say they were permanently dead in the water, instead they chose to head-fuck us with, “no longer accepting new business” What the hell does that even mean? Are they dead, are they on life-support, are they still accepting mouldy and stale business?

Am I reading too much into the cryptic phrasing, or do they hope to rise from the ashes?

To be continued…

For now, farewell Upad, and thank you for your spectacular service!

We, as landlords, have much to thank Upad for. Not only for the excellent service they have provided many of us with over the years, but also because they were the one’s that dragged the online lettings model to the forefront.

They were the first online agent to really push forward with the movement, which allowed others to gain recognition. Make no mistake, Upad did a lot of the heavy lifting for this industry. If it wasn’t for them, many of us would still be shelling out disgusting amounts of money on high-street alternatives. Moreover, many high-street agents were forced to lower their fees to complete.

Upad, thank you for your service, and I’m sad it ended the way it did. I hope lessons were learned, but above all, best of luck with your future endeavours.

On final note: since their departure, a few folk have questioned the sustainability of the online agency model (to be fair, high-street agents have always questioned it, for obvious reasons).

My answer to that is: here is a list of the best online letting agents and online estate agents on the market, post Upad.

xoxo

P.s. Terrible timing, I’m attending a Wedding on Sunday, so I’ll respond to comments when I return on Monday! Or Tuesday.

46 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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Andy 13th October, 2019 @ 07:28

This one sentence -

"I’m with you, Jigga man."

Mouthful of cornflakes and PMSL!!

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Linda shinner 13th October, 2019 @ 07:38

Thank you for being so honest with us.

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peter hall 13th October, 2019 @ 07:50

Good morning enjoy your wedding

Thank you for being so refreshingly honest .........the letting game is an absolute snakepit .
none of the online agents serve/ or indicate the various conditions and terms the Law insists .
The High st agents never bothered either RIP the sooner the better

Keep on keepyour chin up
regards
Peter

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Benji 13th October, 2019 @ 08:20

Bit of a coincidence its happened straight after the tenant fees act 2019 came into effect.

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Lynda 13th October, 2019 @ 08:35

I've used upad. They were great
They hold my tenantsdeposit
What should I do.
Thanks

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Mark 13th October, 2019 @ 09:17

Great post - we were all shocked here at Howsy too. In response to Lynda (and others wondering what to do next), we've put together some advice from here. We hope it helps.

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Fiona R 13th October, 2019 @ 09:33

Shit happens, I used them with one of your offers and they were very good. However, as you say bottom line is that everyone wants the most bang for their buck. They priced themselves out of the market and survival of the fittest etc. I still strongly believe that to survive the industry has to be mainly on-line and high street percentage will continue to shrink. Thanks for your posts they make my day with your honesty and wisdom (mostly).

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Borrieboy 13th October, 2019 @ 09:46

As a landlord for some 20 yrs or so with 3 properties, I’ve only ever used High St... and now that I’ve been living abroad for over 5 yrs, that’s become my only realistic lettings service option - and believe me, I wish it wasn’t!
The above having been said, I do wonder what realistic options people in my position have..? UPad certainly wasn’t one, nor were/are any of the other onliners.
So whilst my post isn’t directly to do with online agencies, or the demise of one, what choices do we have? Really thinking hard about selling-up... it’s all getting too painful for a 4% return on capital (if you’re lucky). All we need now is a Labour govt.

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Grumpy 13th October, 2019 @ 09:50

It’s a shame to see any business go under. It takes a huge effort, physically, mentally and financially to start and run any business. I feel for them.
Personally I used Openrent for the past 4 years for more than a dozen times and they are excellent. Their system is perfect.

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Tketa_Kev 13th October, 2019 @ 11:02

What a sad blog to have to report on the demise of one of the oldest online letting agents.

I feel mostly for the employee's who are probably out of work now, it is never a good time to be out of work and personally you'd think an IT business would be the last casualty but clearly not.

As a LL for 6 years I have never used Upad because of their prices, as we know it was too much.

Looks like I, like other will continue with Openrent.

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BogBeast 13th October, 2019 @ 11:38

Looked at them a few time, couldn't get past the price. Their webinars were OK.

The areas I own in, it's fairly easy to find tenants, so more often than not I could a good tenant by myself. On the odd occasion when I couldn't find someone suitable and I wanted to get on Rightmove/Zoopla, I have used Openrent. Only used them for that, no referencing or any other services.

One day, Rightmove and Zoopla will accept adverts direct from landlords. When that happens, all these online agents will be done.

Your comment on streamlining are on the money. Sorry to say, but "the secret" to running a successful business these days is automate/outsource as much as possible and minimise the expensive manpower. IIRC UPAD were based in London? an expensive London address rammed full of pewple... well..

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Paul 13th October, 2019 @ 12:25

@Landlord

With respect, you are right; you do not know the facts and nor do we.

Have you ever set up a business and been responsible for the mortgages of all your staff if you go bust?

Have you ever put up your home under a personal guarantee for lending of a business you founded and believe in?

Have you ever had to appoint an administrator, it can be worse than a marriage break up for some.

It is so easy to bleat about the problems of individual Landlords which are nothing compared to a business owner who has put years of their life, guaranteed debts, maybe lost his marriage over the pressure.

Let me tell you why I think the MD of this business is being extremely responsible.

He has turned off the tap to mitigate any inconvenience to new signups while he tries to sort out the business.

He could have traded until completely insolvent and left way more in the lurch.

It is not unusual for tech disrupters to be in the red for years, look at Uber or Amazon, billions in the red for the latter for many years.

Now there can always be questions asked and lessons learnt; if you are creating a lean n mean low cost alternative, you do not get offices in Oxford Circus, Kilburn or even in London. In fact you avoid having an office at all, you run the thing from home, from where you co-ordinate other home workers, call centres and so on.

When you are in startup mode you run the business by creating VPN's between your staff at home so that IT can be shared and you use online collaboration tools. You design the processes of the business for this lean and mean environment, you pay as little as possible for everything.

Now like you, I have no knowledge of this particular company, I notice that in September 2019 a totally different company was created called Upad London Ltd was created with different officers, so it may be that company buys up what is left of Upad.

In business circles, most successful multimillionaires have had at least one business go tits up, sometimes it is experience, sometimes it is being cornered by the finance or shareholders and sometimes the idea is before it's time or it has the wrong model.

What you can be sure of is that we NEED competition, or we will all pay more, so let's wish the MD of Upad well and hope he manages to get the finance he needs to keep the company not only afloat but on a good setting.

Ironically the guys I know in tech funding demand a solid and powerful CFO is in place, they pay for themselves many times over.

I suspect that it may be a combination of bad spending and under capitalisation, both of which can be remedied if the idea is solid, which it seems to be.

Good Luck James!

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David 13th October, 2019 @ 12:49

@Lynda

They do NOT hold your tenant's deposit, they are not a Government authorised scheme. They may have placed it into one of the three schemes, the cache of their terms & conditions (https://bit.ly/31fgTu1) say they protected with TDS but do a search on the three sites if you struggle to find it

bit.ly/chkdep1

bit.ly/chkdep2

bit.ly/chkdep3

If your deposit was not protected, then I would get an email off to the owner asking for some sort of detail.

I imagine like any other large agent they upload details of deposits taken in batches. So it is important to CHECK your deposit is protected, especially if you are in the first 30 days.

Such checks will be considered as mitigation in the event of a claim if you are over 30 days, as will protecting it yourself if you find it is not showing on any of the systems.

In fact by protecting it now even if you are late you may put off some claims as a cursory check will show it is protected. You may need to fire off a message to the tenant to say it is being moved from TDS to DPS if that is who you use.

TDS themselves offer a buffer but rest assured, if payments stop coming from Upad, the whole insurance policy will be cancelled, so get this DONE TODAY.

You could email james.davis@upad.co.uk (working at the time of writing) as the company has not been put into administration according to companies house.

or contact him via one of his other companies

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/LgTFlVt6XgDzdUTlUt8Pg8nFlcM/appointments

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JohnC 13th October, 2019 @ 12:56

Great writeup and also appreciate your honesty.

Very sad news. I've used Upad before and thought they were a very good service. As said by others they became way to expensive. It's never nice to hear of people losing their job. Best of luck to all staff members and James.

Paul, I read your comment but couldnt help but feel rage. Why? You went on a rant about how operating a business is difficult. I dont think anyone said running a business was easy.

I run two separate companies and I know how difficult it is out there. Ive had to dissolve one company which near bankrupted me. Even after I closed the doors I never went silent on my customers and I never would. I told them exactly what was happening so they could also prepare themselves for the worst. Everyone fails but its important to fail the right way. No need to ever be unprofessional, always be courteous.

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Grumpy 13th October, 2019 @ 12:59

@Borrieboy

4% return on capital -Jesus thought mine was bad! SELL UP

For 4% return. Sell the lot and buy a FTSE100 tracker. That’s currently yielding 4%
No hassle no tenants.

Completion on my remaining 2 properties being in next two weeks ... fingers crossed.

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Paul 13th October, 2019 @ 14:20

@JohnC

Rage! Really! Calm down buddy, see your Doctor for some meds if you have and Anger problem!

My comments were in response to what comes over as a very selfish view in post and comments.

I just wanted to apply some balance.

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JohnC 13th October, 2019 @ 14:43

@Paul

Who said business was easy? All you did was talk about how tough business is. What/who were you countering?

You didnt apply any balance, you talked about an irrelevant issue that no one was even talking about. You created an argument in your head. Ironic that your telling me to take my meds lol

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Hassan Hassan 13th October, 2019 @ 14:56

Online and traditional agents can be combined to offer the best of both worlds… it’s not necessary an “all or nothing” approach. To thrive and survive in modern market, online agents will need to consider bridging out to be local agents (like Purple Bricks, Emoov, etc. have done) and traditional agents need to embrace the online marketplace.

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Paul 13th October, 2019 @ 16:24

@JohnC

Calm down fella

Argument in my head? No just balancing the article and comments

Entirely relevant, when you talk about a company failing that you consider how it is for the other side, not just yourself.

It is called empathy, although I appreciate it may not be common experience for someone who feels RAGE from reading a perfectly innocent post.

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JohnC 13th October, 2019 @ 16:34

Still not explaining who said that business wasn't difficult.

Youre avoiding. This is embarrassing.

I think you need to read the post again. All that happened is the landlord gave his opinion to why he thought the business may have closed its doors.You did not provide any balance, all you said was that business was difficult.

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Borrieboy 13th October, 2019 @ 18:49

1 bedder worth, say, £200k with monthly £850 rent less £150 mthly maintnce charge = £700, assume full let of 12mths, p.a. = £8,400... (less possible repairs, tax etc @ 20%) ?
That’s a whopping 4.2% gross return.
If you’re doing better than that around south London, good for you...

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Pete 13th October, 2019 @ 20:21

Excellent article as ever, thank you for your thoughts and analysis. It's tougher with the new regulations for them.

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Grumpy 14th October, 2019 @ 01:41

Borrieboy

I wasn’t really intending my comment As a criticism. More a question as to why you keep it with such a low return. My properties were in the north of England, nett returns were better, but I decided to sell them.
The only reason to keep them is for potential capital value increase which is very unlikely now.
Good luck. At least you have this excellent blog to share the pain with....😉

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Grumpy 14th October, 2019 @ 01:43

David

As usual great advice for everyone.
Thanks

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Borrieboy 14th October, 2019 @ 09:05

Grumpy, sorry, I wasn’t being infradig... just laid out how it looks to me at the mo.

Selling-up is towards the top of my ToDo list... as is working out how much CGT it’s gonna cost me!

They get you any which way!

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EPS501 14th October, 2019 @ 10:23

@borrieboy

in one sentence " They get you any which way!"
It all boils down to the maths at the end of the day. I would suggest finding advice from a good landlord tax accountant specialist if you haven't already done so to see if there are still ways to reduce your CGT and other tax liabilities. Note I said 'reduce' and not 'avoid' :-)
Good luck!

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kirk 14th October, 2019 @ 14:04

I’ve lost £3k due to this company taking me on as their main contractor for providing inventory services as of August this year they provide me with Lots work for two months And promised a great prosperous future ahead etc clearly knowing that shit was going to hit the fan..I haven’t had a penny from these guys so I will do whatever it takes to hunt down Mr Davies and obtain my money one way or another you can’t fucking do this it’s morally wrong and if someone thinks they are taking food out of my children’s mouths they are painfully mistaken.

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Sula 15th October, 2019 @ 10:41

I used Upad for the first time when I was looking for a tenant for my second property. A Landlord friend of mine recommended Upad to me and it was so much better than the high street agent who had been trying to palm me off with any old tenant, just to get the job done. I used Upad again last year when I needed to find tenants for 2 of my properties, the first property was slow on Upad, mainly owing to the time of the year. However, then we discovered OpenRent and realised that we could more or less instantly advertise properties for free (the first property) and 'give it a go'. There really wasn't anything to lose by giving it a go and it generated loads of enquiries (although the main problem with OpenRent is filtering the complete nutters you get taking their chances on finding what they believe to be a gullible Landlord to take for a ride!) - although to be fair, such is life no matter how you advertise. As you rightly say, with OpenRent Landlords can select the most basic package to get the property checked and online as quickly as possible and then reference Tenants for around £20. Especially with the Tenant Fees ban, knowing that the fees were about to become the responsibility of the Landlord, OpenRent's model had already incorporated certain elements and rules on what you could charge the Tenant. When I discovered OpenRent and the difference in cost, I actually emailed Upad to ask them why their service was so expensive in comparison to OpenRent (I explained that I had used Upad in the past and been happy with the service) I didn't receive a reply! I also attended a free Webinar with Upad, it was possibly the most poorly presented meeting I have ever attended (albeit virtually ;)). Most additional advice and information are provided in a much more comprehensive way by the RLA/NLA anyway (who have recently announced a merger to pool resources too).

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The Landlord 15th October, 2019 @ 13:47

Gosh, what a weekend!

Thanks for all the comments, people. It was interesting to read.

On a sidenote, the backlash I received from the newsletter I sent out on Sunday (on the Lord's day), which carelessly started off with "Jesus Christ", was unexpected.

I quote, "Very sad that you use the Lords name in vain."

I actually didn't mean to cause any offence, I just wasn't thinking. I didn't even realise it was so offensive. I apologise to those that took offence.

Ignorance, I guess. Lesson learned.

In any case, I'm sure I'll be punished accordingly in due time. Unless, of course:

"1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

I CONFESS!

No joke, someone said my newsletter has been "forwarded onto the Christian network for comment."

WTF?!? Does anyone even know what that means for little ol' me? Am I doomed?

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The Landlord 15th October, 2019 @ 14:02

@Benji
The tenant fee act happened quite recently, so while that probably didn't help, there was probably other factors in play.

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The Landlord 15th October, 2019 @ 14:30

Hi @Paul,

I'm a bit confused by your response, to be honest.

"He could have traded until completely insolvent and left way more in the lurch.", can't you ALWAYS leave more people in the lurch?

Do you actually know how many people were left in the lurch? Like, how much owed debt there was to small businesses (e.g. did you know about Kirk, comment #27, for example)?

You don't, do you? But you're saying Upad was "extremely responsible" because they closed 5 days after going silent, meanwhile not knowing anything else.

I can categorically tell you, there was more money owed to other people. I was also 'most likely' owed money, although I don't know how much, because I'm normally told at the end of each month. But it's not an issue for me personally, Upad have been more than fair with me over the years.

It's all well and good saying that Upad were extremely responsible, but you're saying that on the basis of not knowing the facts, which is exactly why you seemed to have a gripe with my comments. That's what confuses me, because, respectfully, you're kind of being a hypocrite. Moreover, I never made any definitive statements without facts... but you did.

I'm not sure if the MD was responsible or not, I have no idea. As said, I don't know the details of 'why' or 'how'. All I said was that I didn't like the fact that their clients weren't told what was going on when they were reaching out for assistance. Maybe there was no other way. It still seemed wrong. It wasn't an attack on James.

Knowing what I do about James, I'm sure it wasn't easy for him, and I'm sure he tried to do the best by everyone. I don't question that. He's a good guy, I genuinely really like him.

In any case, I agree, business isn't easy (as someone pointed out, I never disputed that).

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The Landlord 15th October, 2019 @ 14:37

@kirk,
Ah sorry to hear that. I really am!

I'm sure when Upad promised you a great prosperous future they meant it- they probably didn't see the end at the time. I know that doesn't help your situation, but I'm just trying to be objective.

As said in my previous comment, they probably also owed me money.

James personally will not be liable for Upad's debt, so there's very little good going after him. Sadly, I think it's very unlikely you'll be able to recoup that money. Many people will lose out because of the sad closure of Upad.

Sorry once again, and best of luck.

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The Landlord 15th October, 2019 @ 14:59

@BogBeast
I personally doubt Rightmove/Zoopla will directly deal with vendors/landlords. I don't think it would make sense, for a couple of reasons:

1) Dealing with agents is easier for them, because they get volume in stock! For example, one agent provides hundreds of properties. That's easier than dealing with hundreds of individual people. The agents do all the hard work of gathering the stock, so I doubt the portals will want to take on that responsibility, or additional marketing costs.

2) Rightmove/Zoopla NEED agents to sell properties. Agents are better at selling than civilians. Without agents, the market will slow down.

That's just my opinion anyways. But I agree, IF they accepted adverts direct from landlords/vendors, it certainly would be game over for all online agents. It would also massively impact high-street agents.

I actually think that's why OpenRent are able to survive, because of automation!

Yeah, Upad were based in London, Queen's Park. I think it's in Zone 2, just outside central.

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JMM 16th October, 2019 @ 12:09

Hello everyone,
Thanks for the post and comments from others.

I have a question with respect to below FAQ :
Q: I have paid for a Upad advertising package and haven’t yet found a tenant.
A: We are sorry that we have not been able to find you a tenant. If you have purchased a Upad package since 1 October 2019 then we will be refunding you in due course. If you purchased a Upad package prior to that date, we regret that we cannot offer a refund.

I bought a package in 2017 which I couldn't use and was reflecting in my account. I was advised by UPAD that I can use this package in future. Could anyone advise whether we will be classed as unsecured creditor? Are there any administrators assigned in UPAD case ? Should we not expect our monies back.

What is the way forward to claim back the package money that was paid to UPAD ?

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The Landlord 16th October, 2019 @ 21:11

@JMM
I very much doubt you'll be able to reclaim that unfortunately. But then again, I'm not certain. Maybe someone else might know more.

I'm not sure if Upad went into liquidation, or dissolved the company. I guess that will determine what your next steps should be.

I hope it wasn't for a lot of money...

I think there might actually be a few people in your situation, because they sold multi-advert packs (which saves you money because you're buying in bulk), so many landlords would have had credits in their account.

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Lemac 17th October, 2019 @ 06:21

The main shareholder pulled out.
, resigned basically.

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JohnC 17th October, 2019 @ 08:03

If that's the case the remaining shareholders would have had an option to buy his shares i'm guessing, so maybe they weren't worth anything? Sounds like a case of abandoning a sinking ship. I did read that James had an unfortunate heart condition so maybe the stress wasnt worth it.

Its never nice to see a business go under whatever the circumstances, I wish them all the best.

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Milkybarkid 22nd October, 2019 @ 02:37

I have consistently used Upad since they first came to my attention many years ago. Their service was always first class.
I continued to use them for 2 reasons (despite their increasing fees) mainly because :

1- They had the photos and details of all my properties and this saved me time when re-advertising
2- Blind loyalty

Over the past 2 years their service has declined rapidly - Unable to get through on the phone, being put onto a generic call answer service, nobody calling me back, even a poorer response rate from adverts for some strange reason.

Exasperated, I wrote to James, their MD, at that time asking why their service had gone downhill - there were no reasons given.

James even wrote to me (and I imagine most of his multiple property landlords) asking me if I wanted to invest in the company a few years ago "in order to assist in their rapid expansion plans" - he seemed pretty desperate even at that time. This was followed up with a 'webinar' to advise investors of the fabulous opportunity, early 2017. It will be interesting to know how many of his customer landlords invested, and what became of the share sale.

Their continued marketing of reduced price bulk advertising packages over the past few years in order to get more money up front (to be used at a later date - now worthless of course) was another ploy in order to prop up what was clearly and knowingly a failing company.

I don't doubt that James has had health issues.
Whether these were remotely related to the company failing is very doubtful.

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The Landlord 22nd October, 2019 @ 11:52

@Milkybarkid
Thanks for sharing, interesting stuff.

I think you were one of the many keeping Upad alive with blind loyalty, to be honest. But I suspect those numbers were also slowly dwindling. I've heard from many landlords over the years, which were Upad loyalists, that said they made the jump to OpenRent because Upad eventually became too expensive for them.

I actually remember the time you speak of, when Upad reached out to their customers to seek investment; I remember James telling me it was quite successful.

Jame's definitely had health issues - I remember meeting him after he had recovered from an unexpected heart operation. But likewise, I doubt that was the primary reason for folding Upad, especially in the way it happened. That wouldn't really make much sense. However, I don't doubt that the chances of digging themselves out of a hole may have seemed unlikely and therefore extremely stressful, so he may have thought it isn't worth it - which I can understand.

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GriffMG 16th November, 2019 @ 14:11

Not sure how accurate this is:

https://propertyindustryeye.com/founders-close-brush-with-death-at-43-revealed-as-reason-behind-upads-closure/

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The Landlord 16th November, 2019 @ 14:24

@GriffMG
I read that article previously, and it has been mentioned in the comments section already.

I know Jame's did have heart complications last year - and thankfully he recovered. But ultimately, I certainly don't believe that was the reason for closing down Upad, and I say that for many reasons I won't get into (although, a lot of it is based on what I discussed in the blog post).

What do you think? :)

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GriffMG 16th November, 2019 @ 16:34

I've read the article, and I don't think it's the 'whole truth'. I, personally, and from how I see the market, think they p***ed their money down a drain, tried to save it all by increasing their prices to the point where there were no *new* customers and only a dwindling loyal customer base left. They could probably have done a major downsizing, and branded a new offering entirely - based on their existing tech... but that probably didn't sit well with their investors.

Watch this space, something will rise from the ashes that can in some way compete with OpenRent - not called UPad or coming from their plush London offices.

That's what I think.
(oh and OpenRent don't seem to be offering the 5-day free trial at the moment)

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GriffMG 16th November, 2019 @ 16:36

From OpenRent:

Hi Martin,

The five day free trial is no longer offered to all new users I'm afraid - can I ask where you heard about the offer?

Kind regards,
Daz.
--
The OpenRent Team
OpenRent.co.uk

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The Landlord 16th November, 2019 @ 19:44

@GriffMG,

In regards to Upad, yup, I think we're on the same wavelength. I pretty much said the exact same things in my blog post.

I suspect Upad will rise again under new management soon enough.

Hmm interesting about OpenRent. They NEVER mentioned anything to me, so I'm going to fire them a quick email to find out what the hell is going on! Thanks for the head's up!

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The Landlord 16th November, 2019 @ 19:48

@GriffMG,
Oh, it looks like they're still offering the free trial for my readers/subscribers *phhhhhewwww*

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GriffMG 17th November, 2019 @ 07:58

Ah, well perhaps we'll get it next time - hopefully not too soon, because we have a full inventory at the moment...

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