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UK lettings and landlord insurance industry giant, Hamilton Fraser, has announced the launch of its own in-house deposit alternative brand, Ome.
Having previously highlighted the problems surrounding the increasing trend for such schemes, Hamilton Fraser has decided to tackle these issues head-on itself, providing a transparent product aimed at delivering complete market choice for UK tenants and landlords, without compromising their rental wellbeing in the process.
Ome is the latest brand to launch in the Hamilton Fraser Group and will be the vehicle for its Deposit Replacement Membership. Ome will operate independently, enabling agility within an adapting market, but with the support and entire resources of the Hamilton Fraser Group behind it, including its extensive knowledge of deposit protection having operated the government authorised scheme mydeposits since 2007. Ome will also benefit from Hamilton Fraser’s own adjudication service HF Resolution, which already provides services to many of the existing deposit alternatives.
This is already the case with many of the offerings in Hamilton Fraser’s extensive portfolio and will ensure that, regardless of which deposit path tenants and landlords opt to go down, they receive a customer focused service. Not only this, but Ome’s digital first approach will provide Hamilton Fraser with a pioneering brand as they continue to make improvements to customer service and operations.
Ome aims to address a number of market changes, particularly with many tenants now renting as a lifestyle choice, coupled with the introduction of the tenant fee ban and the industry milestone of mandatory client money protection.
In addition to these external changes in the private rented sector, Hamilton Fraser already has the relevant internal expertise. In fact, Hamilton Fraser is already providing the adjudication services to many of the leading deposit alternatives through HF Resolution and has been offering traditional deposit protection since 2007 through mydeposits. So, with Hamilton Fraser experiencing increasing demand from even the largest property industry brands for these products, and with the expertise and tools already at its disposal, the company is extremely well placed to deliver such a product via Ome.
Ome will look to tackle existing industry issues through an open approach, ensuring every tenant and landlord is aware of the pros and cons of deposit protection options, and how both an alternative or traditional deposit scheme might best suit their individual situation. Ome doesn’t want to dissuade anyone from using the traditional format, but they do want to offer the flexibility that more than one choice can provide.
Deposit alternatives are not an affordability product. Ome has been designed as a cash flow solution to provide an option that doesn’t require a hefty upfront sum for those tenants that would rather financial flexibility.
Ome is as much about protecting landlords as it is about helping tenants. Ome will provide landlords with the exact same financial protections that they would receive with a traditional deposit scheme.
The only question Ome encourages landlords to ask themselves is whether or not they want to deal with the administrative and legislative burden a traditional cash deposit requires.
With increasing reports of some landlords not protecting deposits correctly and rogue agents running off with tenancy deposits, Ome’s alternative product protects against these risks.
Co-founder of Ome, Matthew Hooker, commented:
“Ome is about offering choice and transparency within the market rather than completely rewriting the tenancy deposit rulebook and I think Ome’s Deposit Replacement Membership will be the “go-to” option for many renters and will complement the traditional deposit schemes in today’s rental market.
Hamilton Fraser provides such a wealth of resources at our fingertips and has a rich history of expanding and improving its consumer offering. As a result, we are in a strong position to offer the best deposit replacement product available today in Ome, whilst also driving positive change in the UK rental sector and, like Hamilton Fraser, we will continue to raise industry standards.”
Group CEO of Hamilton Fraser, Eddie Hooker, commented:
“Hamilton Fraser is one of the country’s leading specialists in landlord and tenants’ services and products and is well known as an expert in the sector. Therefore the launch of Ome is complemented by the huge resource and credibility that the family group provides. When you think about it, a deposit alternative product is a very natural expansion for us because we know the space so very well and we’ve been asked by our many landlord and agent clients to provide one. So we have.
Hamilton Fraser’s business ethos is to offer products that protect businesses and consumers, to provide market-leading customer service and to educate the market where we can. With this mission to raise standards in the private rental sector, the next natural step was to challenge the new crop of deposit products and demonstrate ourselves the standards that should be expected within the sector.”
Tenants will be held to the exact same obligations as a traditional deposit scheme. They must understand that they are still responsible for leaving the property in the same condition they found it, and most importantly that they must pay all the rent and bills they are contracted to pay within the tenancy agreement.
If a tenant does not look after the property then Hamilton Fraser’s experienced adjudicators will assess the settlement figures owed to the landlord and the tenant will be obliged to pay them. If they don’t, the landlord will be financially protected and the tenant will be held liable under contract.
Ome’s deposit alternative will build on the good work done by the traditional deposit schemes in raising standards and improving communication between all parties to the tenancy agreement.
Tenant references will be required but, in line with the theme of offering choice, Ome will not dictate what referencing supplier can be used.
Landlord and agent obligations
Landlords and agents can continue to rely on their existing referencing relationship with the only requirement being that the landlord must comply with Ome’s minimum referencing standards.
Ome will require landlords and agents to perform property inventories and check-in and check-out reports. This is not only because disputes at the end of the tenancy will be evidence based, but also because it creates better transparency and communication between the landlord and tenant, reducing conflict at the end of the tenancy should a dispute arise.
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