Are ‘rate your landlord’ websites worth the effort?

by Property118.com News Team

16:23 PM, 13th March 2012
About 7 years ago

Are ‘rate your landlord’ websites worth the effort?

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Are ‘rate your landlord’ websites worth the effort?

New online services are springing up that let property people and renters share information about ‘bad’ landlords and tenants – but are the details fair and accurate?

The problem for a landlord is these sites can open the door for equality and diversity claims.

If a landlord acts on the data and refuses to let to someone, they might argue the decision was discrimination based on protected characteristics like age, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion.

Two key other legal safeguards operate for these web sites – the services have to be registered for data protection and the publishers have to abide by the laws of libel.

If the site has data protection registration, a tenant can apply for a copy of the details held about them on the database.

If a landlord has posted false information, this could lead to the tenant suing the web site for libel, unless the information is proved truthful, fair comment or

One landlord site – LandlordReferencing.co.uk – has an estimated 20,000 members keying information in to the site’s database about tenants who fail to pay rents or damage their properties.

TenantID.co.uk, now part of credit bureau Callcredit, takes a different approach and lets landlords check a tenant’s rent history in a similar way to banks and companies report a credit payment history.

Checking out landlords cuts both ways – a couple of sites also rates landlords and letting agents.

AllAgents.co.uk lists more than 17,000 letting agent review that are searchable by name, postcode or town.

UKLettingAgent.co.uk seems to have several hundred reviews but is difficult to search.

The last Labour government wanted to introduce a ‘rate your landlord’ web site, but abandoned the plans before losing the May 2010 election.

Charity Consumer Focus has floated the idea since the election and is rumoured to be trying to iron out the legal issues involved in publishing online reviews.



Comments

1:57 AM, 14th March 2012
About 7 years ago

  

 

Imagine this scenario

 

Recently closed letting agent that went bust owing landlords
thousands of pounds.

Why does the letting agent owe landlords loads of money?
Answer because they have not being forwarding rents to landlords.

Next question, how come, the letting agent has been able to
get away with for so long, as it is unlikely that failure to forward rents to
landlords started just days before letting agent went bust. It is likely that
this letting agent was either forwarding rents late to landlords or in
instalments every month.

 

Now please think, this letting agent must have had some sort
of deceitful scheme to fool landlords as to why rents were late or were in
instalments. Maybe, the letting agent has been telling landlords that their
tenants have not been paying their rents on time or even worse not paying it at
all. This of course is likely to be a lie to cover the letting agents back.
Inorder to prove to the landlord that this is the case the letting agent shows
landlords falsified late payment demand letters sent to tenant and backs it up
by telling the landlord that they have registered ‘false’ information with
sites like Landlord Referencing Services and Tenant ID ‘INCORRECT AND DAMAGING’
information that is likely to destroy the tenants credit history.

 

As your report says the tenant has the right to seek
information held by credit referencing agencies but the problem is that there
are quite a few of these new upstart tenant history gathering websites and many
are obscure and are unknown to tenants. So tenants are totally in the dark
about whom is collecting their information, and therefore not in a position to
correct wrong or false information stored.

 

Most importantly who vets the letting agents and landlords
supplying this information, is there a mandatory legal body they belong to
monitor and enforce standards. What if a tenant falls out with a landlord and
the landlord takes revenge by supplying false information to one of these
sites. Landlord and tenant relationships are very personal compared to impersonal
relationships banks and other financial firms have with their clients. Tenant
and landlord relationships are very much personal and could even include
intimate relationships gone wrong.

 

What if the letting agent goes bust does all the information
supplied remain on file, what  if a
letting agent is convicted of offences such as fraud, dishonesty or theft do
they have the right to still supply information to these websites and what
about all the information supplied prior to their conviction? How could you
possibly rely on information supplied by a fraudster about ones tenant  history.

 

At rentdirectuk.co.uk we are concerned about the providers,
the quality and reliability of the information being supplied. The credibility
of the provider of such information and any background information of the
relationship between landlord and tenant, were there or are there any legal proceedings
between the landlord and tenant prior or at the time of negative information
registered against the tenant. Was there a bitter dispute  between landlord and tenant about returning
the deposit in full at end of a tenancy, had the tenant reported landlord or
letting agent for say health and safety breeches and landlord decided to report
tenant as being troublesome?

 

Hopefully we have tried to highlight some of our concerns
about some of the problems with these tenant history services and our deep concerns
about abuse of the system as a result of broken business relationships or sour
personal relationships.

 

10 Ways to be the Best Tenant! - http://www.rentdirectuk.co.uk/FORUM/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=47

2:05 AM, 14th March 2012
About 7 years ago

Full Disclosure - I am the founder of http://www.housebiscuits.com which allows tenants to rate their landlords and landlords to better market their property.

There is nothing worse then trying to move out of a rental and hear "Oh, I don't typically give security deposits back". However, each side has a story to tell and in my opinion a good site should allow both parties to participate (i.e. a landlord to respond to a view if needed). There are many out there that just provide a platform for tenants to complain, what value does that have? 
While I can't speak for those sites, the goal of our House Biscuits is to shed light onto landlords that don't value the relationship with his/her tenants; while at the same time rewarding those that do with a marketable piece of content...real reviews.When developing the concept for House Biscuits I discovered that the rental housing marketing is a saturated space as far as the number of properties go. Anyone will tell you that if you look on Craigslist or any other listing site there are going to be a large amount of new properties listed each day. From the landlords perspective they are able to have a competitive advantage by "owning" reviews on these sites and using them to market their property. Additionally, when it comes down to it a tenant who cares about their living situation would rather pay a little more knowing that they are in "good hands".Like anyone I have had the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to renting from a landlord. Dealing with a landlord that doesn't value your relationship ends up putting a HUGE burden on you and adds unneeded stress. On the converse side, if a landlord DOES value the relationship that you have with them they deserve to never have an empty month again! We're here for the good landlords, use your positive reviews and turn your property into "THE" place to live. In some cases landlords can develop a waiting list for their property. Who wouldn't want that type of financial security in this economy?I appreciate you writing this article as it highlights the growing trend and acknowledges a resource that we feel is the future of the landlord/tenant relationship.Thanks for Your Time,Jake Brenner

Mark Alexander

8:34 AM, 14th March 2012
About 7 years ago

Welcome to our UK website Jake, how's life across the pond?

Lynne Davis

21:03 PM, 28th August 2015
About 3 years ago

Just been looking into landlord review sites (after a tenant told us we should have some online testimonials) and this page came up in the search result. House Biscuits sounds good (not too sure about the name though!) but unfortunately now seems to be defunct.

I have, however, found these sites:

1. http://www.RentalRaters.com - sounded good when featured in a newspaper article, particularly the bit about LLs having a right of reply, but all the reviews only seem to relate to individual properties rather than being grouped by landlord, so there are never going to be more than one or two reviews per property unless we're talking HMOs, student halls or similar.

2. http://www.thetenantsvoice.co.uk - only seems to be interested in agents

3. http://www.landlord-reviews.co.uk - only 72 landlords/agents in system and only a minority of these have ratings, most of which are pretty poor - which suggests no right of reply for LLs. Not mobile-friendly.

4. http://www.residentreview.co.uk - seems more even-handed than most, even presenting itself as an opportunity for good LLs/agents to promote themselves. Mobile-friendly and free to use. Couple of hundred LLs; there are separate classifications for agents and student halls but some seem to be in the wrong category. A good proportion of positive reviews, right of reply for LLs, and they also give a case study for the removal of an unfair review complaining about a pest infestation. The site name is less intuitive than others though.

5. http://www.mylandlordreviews.co.uk - only contains about 40 landlords, and all the reviews are negative - suggests no right of reply for LLs. The "About us" page also indicates an anti-LL agenda.

6. http://www.ratemylandlord.com looks very spartan, is not UK-specific and has only 7 UK landlords listed, only one of whom has a rating.

7. http://www.rateyourlandlord.org.uk - only for students in Leeds.

So Resident Review seems to me to be the best bet from a LL's point of view. I've set up an account and am starting to point tenants in the right direction, and will also link to it from our website once there's a review or two on there.

Any comments / other sites that you'd recommend?

Mark Alexander

21:28 PM, 28th August 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Lynne Davis" at "28/08/2015 - 21:03":

I love it when some of our very first discussion threads are revived Lynne, thanks for sharing your research.
.

Mark Alexander

21:30 PM, 28th August 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Lynne Davis" at "28/08/2015 - 21:03":

PS check out "The GOOD Landlords Campaign" and see where it brings you back to.

Once you have a profile you will rank highly on Google so tenants can easily check you out with a Google Search 😀
.


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