A pair of Bristol entrepreneurs are seeking to turn the tables on a landlord-led market with a website that they hope will revolutionise the rental sector.
Ben Yarrow said it was a bad experience with a property owner that planted the idea for Marks Out Of Tenancy, an online review service that enables tenants to share feedback about their rented accommodation.
Ironically, the 36-year-old passed up the opportunity to buy a house of his own in order to make his dream a reality and prevent people from falling prey to rogue and unscrupulous landlords.
Together with Tom Dickinson, 23, he spent two years extensively researching the rental sector and has now launched the website that is already fast becoming the go-to place for people seeking rented accommodation.
The pair say it has also gone down really well with reputable landlords and letting agents, who have welcomed the opportunity to distinguish themselves from so-called ‘rogue’ landlords who cast a shadow over the entire sector.
“I looked at the market and realised that all the sites that were out there for reviews were very anti-landlords and just about slating them which is not helpful,” said Yarrow.
“So Tom and I have been working to build and develop the website. Tenants can rate their experiences in particular rental properties, under four key areas: the landlord, letting agent, property and neighbourhood.”
With just 26 per cent of the 20-39 age group expected to own their own home by 2025, it is a buoyant market for the Gloucester Road-based entrepreneurs who are offering a perspective that until now, was limited to word of mouth.
“We are providing information to people so they can make better, informed decisions in the future,” added Yarrow.
“It’s so important because when you go to rent a place, you are relying solely on the advice of the letting agent. We use review sites such as TripAdvisor and Airbnb on a daily basis and these are people’s homes so they should have the same opportunities.”
He said a number of improvements and added features are planned for Marks Out Of Tenancy in the near future, including data on transport links, Ofsted reports, local shops, amenities and other useful local knowledge that will help tenants make an informed decision.
A right to reply for landlords will also be available imminently.