Who are you?
Will Handley, CEO of HomeRenter
What does it say on your business card?
CEO and Co-founder
What is HomeRenter?
HomeRenter’s mission is to deliver a fairer, happier renting experience for all parties by connecting private landlords and tenants direct via an online marketplace, in the vein of AirBnB, which cuts out the need for a conventional agent. We also offer key-holding and on-site search for trusted traders.
How do you help landlords and property investors?
For landlords and BTL investors, the site operates as a one-stop-shop to advertise, let and manage rental properties at a fraction of the cost charged by traditional agents. Pricing options for launch comprise a 6 month free trial and an annual listing, sold on a subscription package, at £49.99 discounted from £99.99.
For the paid listing option, to assist with finding tenants, landlords get a fixed package of 3 months promotion on established portal groups such as Rightmove and ZPG, plus professional photography, referencing, HomeRenter To Let boards and access to an intelligent dashboard via which to vet prospective tenants, e-sign leases and run the admin of their tenancy.
Do you have any special deals for landlords at the moment?
Absolutely, we’re currently running the above, no-strings-attached six month free trial that includes 30 days worth of advertising across leading property search portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and PrimeLocation, a bookable viewing service, tenant referencing tools, access to digital lease contracts with e-signature and a HomeRenter To Let board for free. Landlords can check out the deal at www.homerenter.co.uk/landlords.
What other services do you provide?
We also provide our landlords with access to a fledgling community of ‘HomeViewer’ key-holders to facilitate remote or inconvenient viewings and a searchable directory of trusted traders. All users and services on HomeRenter can be rated and reviewed – so landlords get a great sense of prospective tenants and service providers.
Does HomeRenter benefit tenants, too?
Yes! Our site charges no admin fees to tenants and allows prospective renters to search for future rentals on the cusp of going live and reserve these properties ahead of the chasing pack.
What were the main challenges in launching HomeRenter?
The main challenges have probably been typical of most Proptech start-ups; building a strong early team; staying abreast of changing regulatory thinking; winning seed investment; and validating the concept along the way with early stage users. As a business, HomeRenter was fortunate to connect with a like-minded team at Trinity Mirror, the news publisher, from whom we took a seed round investment and who is a key media partner.
Now having launched, the key challenge for us is ensure we keep the pace on the evolution of the HomeRenter product. For us this means integrating in new features, such as automated user ID verification to reinforce the trust values of the community and ‘no deposit renting’ options to smooth away one of the remaining major pain points for tenants.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Delivering value to stressed-out landlords who were unaware of the savings available vs. the high street. In truth, having spent my first ten years in London as a tenant and then to be lucky enough to spend my last decade as a landlord, the opportunity I see with HomeRenter of creating a fairer lettings marketplace for both camps really does make for my dream job.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing landlords at the moment?
As a private landlord who’s just filed his first Section 24 tax return, we see the biggest challenge being making the finances work within new tax regime with loss of finance relief.
What is your property prediction for the remainder of 2018?
In 2018, we expect the Government to do something in the direction of tenancy lengths. Whilst both main parties have made noise about instituting longer-term tenancies, the truth of the matter is that both tenants and landlords alike enjoy the flexibility of break clauses and would resist a one-size-fits-all approach move to say two or three year fixed tenancies.
So, with that barrier in mind, we’re hoping for some more gentle form of incentivization this year for landlords to provide longer term tenancies to those renting, especially families who want stability when renting.