Would you have moved into your current place if you spoke with the last tenant living there? Is your current property, landlord or neighbourhood as advertised by the agent? Would you recommend a friend of yours to rent your property?
You do this for restaurants and hotels on TripAdvisor. So why not your rented property, which is an essential part of your life?
After all, your home is much more important. When you enter a new tenancy, you will usually sign a 6 or 12-month contract where you’re obligated to pay a substantial amount of money each month. Surely, before taking such a critical decision you’d want to tap all available information and get as many viewpoints as possible.
In an ideal world, you’d go to a letting agent and entrust them with finding you a good home that’s safe, has suitable heating, no mould – basic things for everyday life.
And while there are many great agents which will do that for you. There are many that won’t.
At The Tenants’ Voice, we have had the pleasure to meet some fantastic letting agents, genuinely interested in their tenants’ wellbeing. But we’ve also heard many horror stories by tenants over the years.
The only way to get the tenants’ opinion outside of mouth to mouth conversations are landlord and property review websites. Think of TripAdvisor for tenants.
One of these TripAdvisor-style platforms is Mark Out of Tenancy. The website allows tenants to explore property, landlord and neighbourhood reviews when looking for their new home. At the same time, tenants can leave a review of their current and past rental properties to help others make an informed decision.
We caught up with the founder of the website – Ben Yarrow – to answer the most common questions about Marks Out of Tenancy and property review platforms in general.
1. So, TripAdvisor for renters? Why?
We all read reviews of hotels and restaurants before we spend our hard earned money, so why shouldn’t we do the same thing for our rented property?
By signing the tenancy agreement, renters are handing over a huge deposit and a monthly wedge. What if the property is not good? You’ll be stuck there for half a year, either making compromises or fighting battles with your landlord to raise the standards – often a mix of both.
Home is one of the most important things in life.
2. But why the comparison to TripAdvisor?
Reviews of hotels and restaurants on TripAdvisor help customers make better-informed decisions.
Over time reviews have helped to improve the industry by providing essential feedback to hotels and restaurants, and empowering consumers, who now have an audible voice.
Marks Out Of Tenancy is a review platform for tenants to share their experience, and by doing so, helping other tenants make informed decisions about renting a particular property.
Exceptional properties will receive the praise they deserve. At the same time, landlords and letting agents can tap that information and use it to improve their services even further.
3. I get that, but renting a place is easy, there are tons of options for renters. How is Marks Out Of Tenancy any different?
There are hundreds of places you can look online to rent your next place. From Rightmove, Zoopla, Gumtree to the notice board at your local shop.
So you’re right, renting is easy…if the property exactly matches the advertisement. What do you do when you’re two months, the boiler breaks and you end up with no hot water for five weeks?
None of the available property portals tells you anything about what it’s actually like to live there.
- What kind of a person the landlord or letting agent?
- Was it easy to deal with them and all repairs came on time?
- Is there violence in the neighbourhood? Are the streets safe?
Tenants can bridge the gap between listing and reality by leaving their reviews on Marks Out Of Tenancy and other similar review platforms.
4. Having a meal and leaving a review or staying in a hotel and reviewing it on TripAdvisor is nothing like renting, it’s a completely different market.
Agreed, it’s very different. Eating in a bad hotel can ruin your night. Sleeping in a bad hotel can ruin your trip.
But living in a bad home can ruin your life – but physically and mentally. When renting you’re spending far more money and are signing up for a minimum 6-month contract.
The stakes being so much higher, it’s absolutely vital to collect as much information as you possibly can. Landlord and property reviews are just one more factor you can consider.
5. What are you hoping to see happen as a result of Marks Out Of Tenancy?
We’re fully focused on making renting better. Every single review on the site is useful to someone. As I mentioned earlier, the reviews are divided into different parts so you can give independent feedback on each factor related to your tenancy:
- Letting agent
As a result of this, we’re hoping to see that renters can make better-informed decisions, landlords and letting agents use the feedback to improve their service levels and the quality of housing.
The worst enemy of a landlord or a letting agent is are empty properties. If the housing offered is substandard, potential tenants reading the reviews will receive an early warning and avoid the particular property.
We rent just like our users, so we’ve experienced the pains of being stuck with a bad property. We deserve to have our voices heard. Marks Out Of Tenancy is a great place for that to happen.
6. Surely the website is just going to be used by angry tenants to slate landlords?
On the contrary, there are many positive reviews on Marks Out of Tenancy. Many landlords and properties deserve praise and we always invite happy tenants to share their experiences.
Fake reviews are a problem with any Internet platform – Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor.. We’ve built in a number of security layers which prevent spam and defamatory content from reaching the live site. An algorithm analyses each review and looks for signs of forgery and malicious behaviour and blocks obvious violations of our rules.
As a technology company, we invest heavily in improving our service and provide objective reviews submitted by real people. But people are also frequently biased. So we advise everyone to use their good judgement in factoring in landlord and property reviews in their decision.
7. So what would you recommend our readers do?
Everyone who rents has a story to tell about their landlord, letting agent, the property or the neighbourhood they lived in. Sharing that story can help others make better-informed decisions.
If you had a great experience in your rented property and had a very good relationship with your landlord, you should spend a couple of minutes sharing your knowledge. Your landlord will appreciate the promotion and other tenants can find a great place to call their new home.
If there were problems, your reviews may prompt the landlord to take action and remedy the property before a new tenant comes in.
Your readers can help to make renting better by telling their story on Marks Out Of Tenancy.
You can find more landlord and property review websites in our Tools and Resources page.
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our category.
If you experience problems with your tenancy deposit, have disrepair in your rented property or suspect that your landlord should have a licence to rent your property but does not have one then you can receive a free consultation by calling our advice service: Call Tenant Assist on 0333 344 3788.
For more ways to reach us, please visit our contacts page.