According to statistics, around 5.4 million people live in private rental properties across the UK, with the figure set to grow to 7.2 million by 2025. While in the USA, there are developed websites such as apartmentratings.com – which offers a comprehensive database of apartment ratings and reviews across the country, in the UK potential tenants seem to rely mainly on property information offered to them by landlords or real estate agents prior to signing a lease, pointing to the fact there may be a need for independent information about the properties available on the market for rent.
Asktenants.co.uk is a London-based innovative landlord-rating website aiming to fill up this information gap by offering current and former tenants the chance to rate a property they live in or used to live in, in a similar fashion of how travellers review hotels on TripAdvisor. The website also enables landlords and agents to respond to reviews. Property ratings cover various aspects linked to a property including quality of the flooring, brightness, level of quietness, induction, parking, neighbourhood and safety, energy efficiency, landlord responsiveness, deposit refund process for former tenants, etc.
The motivation for this website apparently came while the founders, Payal and Vijay Bhavnani, were renting a property in Richmond which presented significant condensation levels, triggering Vijay’s allergies and interfering with the family’s right to enjoy their 1-year lease. When the family contacted the landlady, they received advice on how to temporary manage the condensation and the landlady also provided a dehumidifier. However, long-term solutions were far from reached or suggested. Seemingly the landlady and the former tenants knew about this matter, however information covering this aspect – which may have helped the Bhavnanis make an informed decision – was far from disclosed to them before signing the lease or made available online. Therefore, the tenants were left in a position of having to manage the situation on their own for the remaining part of their lease.
The founders of the website, who are landlords themselves, have come up with the idea of transforming this experience into a productive business aiming to encourage landlords to provide a comfortable living experience to their tenants and to also help potential tenants make better rental decisions. Utilizing their perspective as landlords, as well as tenants, the founders endeavour to make this website fair to both sides by asking targeted questions and building a logical rating technique. While there are multiple checks tenants generally have to go through to qualify for renting a property, this website seems to bring in some balance by encouraging landlords to up their game and ensure proper living conditions are met before putting their properties on the market.
Asktenants.co.uk aims to enable potential tenants to access valuable information which may lead to more productive decisions when it comes to renting a property and to also give them a voice in this seemingly one sided market where demand tends to outstrip supply. At the same time, the website aims to offer genuine landlords a chance to remedy things for future tenants.
As a potential tenant, a person may wish to review as much information as possible about a property and also about the area. The website aims to provide useful information around safety, local schools information such as national ranking and free school meals, percentage of English as first language, information about people and culture on the street and community park runs – which may be a helpful way of maintaining good health and building a social network. This, along with ratings, may prove to be an efficient tool to help new tenants take a proactive and informed renting decision.
How may property reviews help potential tenants make productive rental decisions?