Reinventing renting – The tenant fee ban and innovation

Mal McCallion
Written by Mal McCallion

A lot of agent marketing drives leads that can at best be described as “unqualified” – and at worst as “time-wasters”. Particularly in the lettings’ sphere, it’s often therefore tempting for agents to view tenant leads as pretty much interchangeable – with the amount of hassle involved in qualifying them, listening to their requirements, taking them on viewings and administering the tenancy as equivalently awful, regardless of individual.

Homie, a PropTech startup that has just raised £3m, is determined to prove that a great tenant is different. Their model is to qualify the tenant and reject those that are going to be a pain. Then they search the whole market based on the renter’s criteria, schedule viewings with agents and drive them round in a black cab to each – making it a much more efficient process for both tenant and agent.

Disclosure: I’m working with Homie because I think that this area of the property market has taken too long to change. Its crazy inefficiency has been subsidised by tenant fees, meaning that pointless work in discussing requirements with unsuitable tenants, or taking them on viewings only to find they don’t pass referencing, is commonplace. That can’t be good for anyone.

With the tenant fee ban coming in next year, the amount of administration agents will have to do for each tenancy is going to be critically important to profitability. Knowing that there is a source of highly-qualified, move-ready tenants on tap is a much stronger proposition than the hit-and-miss process that is currently enabled because each tenant brings with them a fee. Once that fee disappears, it’s going to be even more important to know which tenants are progressible and which are going to suck time and effort from your team for no reward.

It’s heartening to see startups such as Homie looking to innovate and solve real problems for both agents and individuals – and, with the £3m raise, it’s clear that investors see this as a genuine opportunity to improve a market that hasn’t had the focus that it ought.

There will be others that seek to fix these inefficiencies in due course, so agents should see what solutions there are out there locally to maximise their marketing budget’s return and minimise costs. Discover those, like Homie, who are taking the fee ban seriously and looking to provide what every letting agent is going to need – a fast, reliable and efficient way to find the perfect tenant without the time-waters.

That’s marketing innovation which works.

About the author

Mal McCallion

Mal McCallion

Mal McCallion is a veteran of start-ups, Zoopla and, amongst others in the property sector. Mal is now a consultant with high-growth specialists Growtion, helping numerous ambitious businesses to achieve the acceleration that they need to succeed.

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