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Renters keen to deal direct with new PRS brands

With new brand names starting to emerge in the rental market, evidence is emerging that tenants are already seeking them out, in a bid to find their new home in London.

The news will provide a boost for new PRS operators, who are refining their offer for tenants and working out what additional services to include in their rental packages. What is immediately clear is that established names such as housing associations are trusted, and their new PRS brands stand to be well received by private renters.

Notting Hill Housing has reported a spike in inquiries via property listing websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove, since launching its new Folio private rental brand.

Folio London will take forward Notting Hill Housing's PRS activities

Folio London will take forward Notting Hill Housing’s PRS activities

The new PRS landlords all deal direct with their prospective tenants, preferring not to use traditional letting agents. And their rental deals typically avoid the additional costs that letting agents often add, such as referencing fees, check-in fees, and administration fees. Some letting agents in London have also attracted criticism for the small print in their agreements which allow them to charge a substantial fee when a tenant signs to continue renting the same property under a fresh agreement. Both Foxtons and Felicity J Lord have been criticised for charging fees of up to £500.

In contrast, most PRS landlords charge no sign-up or reference fees, and do not charge for tenants choosing to lengthen their rental period; some offer a longer tenancy agreement with the option for earlier termination.

The news lays down a challenge to letting agents and smaller buy to let landlords, as they will increasingly need to be transparent about additional fees charged, or do as the new PRS landlords do, and include them in the rental charged. What is clear, is that tenants prefer no surprises and no upfront payments, when renting – and they are now looking for a brand they feel they can trust.