Time to cut out the middle man?

A new rental happiness survey has revealed that both renters and landlords would prefer to cut out estate agents.

Last year, the number of landlords who use a letting agent to manage their property or properties increased to around 61%, according to a study by the National Landlords Association (NLA). But new research suggests that home renting nirvana means removing estate agents altogether.
The research was conducted by HomeRenter, an online lettings platform that connects private landlords and tenants directly. It reveals that 87% of landlords said they would be happier renting directly to their tenants, rather than via a traditional letting agent.
The survey found that nearly nine out of 10 landlords (88%) landlords reported being happy with letting out their properties. But frustrations included high fees and poor service provided by letting agencies (52%), bad tenants (50%), managing repairs and maintenance (42%), new tax rules and regulations (37%) and finally general admin headaches (33%).
Switching to self-management
The draft Tenant Fees Bill will see letting fees for tenants being banned in the UK, but some expect the quality of service from agents to go down with their profits. The prospect of landlords self-managing their properties and avoiding paying higher rates to letting agents appears a more attractive prospect and could benefit tenants.
James Kent, a landlord from Surrey comments on using online letting platforms to help self-manage his own properties: “I initially went through the lettings team of the nearest high street agent before being introduced to an online renting platform. My partner and I felt the high-street fees weren’t aligned to the service on offer, especially as we were prepared to go down more of a do-it-yourself approach to managing our properties.”
Kent continues: “The main benefit of using an online renting platform is cost saving. There are other benefits too such as streamlining the admin and getting a better idea of exactly who is renting your property from you. It’s important to meet tenants in person to round out the referencing process and to establish a rapport which helps ensure a successful tenancy.”
Seven in ten tenants would prefer to rent directly from a landlord
In contrast, less than half (45%) of tenants reported being happy renting. Apart from the cost of renting, the survey by HomeRenter found that the top gripes making people feel most unhappy about renting are unreasonable letting admin fees (42%), having to chase for repairs and maintenance (41%), having to pay security deposits (36%) and the poor service experienced from letting agents (33%). Seven in ten (70%) tenants said they would prefer to rent directly from a landlord.
Catherine Connolly, a tenant from South West London, adds: “For me, the biggest advantage of using an online renting platform has been not having to pay anything extra when I moved in. Speaking directly with my landlord to organise the lease took less than a week. Dealing directly with a landlord has saved me time, money and hassle. When I have dealt with estate agents in the past, I often found I had to wait for a couple of days to hear back.”
Ratings and reviews
When looking at how to improve transparency and accountability in the rental market, both tenants (81%) and landlords (88%) expressed a desire to be able to rate and review their counterpart on an Airbnb/TripAdvisor style platform.
Will Handley, CEO of HomeRenter, comments: “There is a clear dissatisfaction from both landlords and tenants towards traditional estate agents. The majority from both groups feel the service provided is not up to scratch and would rather cut out the middle man and connect privately with their landlord.
HomeRenter’s mission is to deliver a fairer, happy renting experience for both parties. Connecting private landlords and tenants via an online platform removes the need for a conventional agent. Saving both parties time, money and hassle.”

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