Generation rent strikes back with new 'TripAdvisor for tenants' site

 

Senior Reporter

Landlords be warned: Generation Rent is about to get its revenge. A national website allowing tenants to review rental properties in which they have stayed has launched, with the aiming of becoming the TripAdvisor of the rental market.

RentalRaters is the brainchild of 40-year-old Hannah Williams, who herself lives in a rented property in Crystal Palace, south London, with her two children. She founded the site last year, but it did not launch formally until this week and already has a handful of reviews.

Ms Williams said the idea of owning her own property still seems “a long way off” and says she feels part of Generation Rent, who cannot get a foot on the property ladder as they are unable to afford the hefty deposits demanded by mortgage providers.

“The main catalyst for me starting up the site was a very good friend of mine was stung very, very badly by a rogue landlord,” she told The Independent. “He said to me – and the words really resonated – ‘I just wish that I could stand outside that property and tell other tenants as they’re walking through the door, don’t do it, he will rip you off, nothing works.’

“I just thought it was crazy that we live in this amazing connected world, and yet there isn’t an online way of doing that, where you are able to highlight where you’ve had a fantastic experience, and obviously where you’ve had a very bad experience.”

She argues that the playing field between landlords and tenants needs levelling, as while most prospective renters are credit and reference-checked and required to pay a security deposit before moving in, they do not have the opportunity to investigate their future landlord or letting agent in return.

It is a view shared by Labour leader Ed Miliband, who earlier this month proposed reforms of the private rented sector including making three-year tenancies standard, placing limits on excessive rent rises and banning the charging of fees by letting agents.

According to the 2012-13 English Housing Survey, four million households (18 per cent) now rent privately, compared with two million (12 per cent) in 1980.

Ms Williams is convinced that her website will catch on due to Britain’s review-obsessed culture. “We’re very used to doing it for small scale things like dining out, so it seems crazy to me that for something that is so fundamental – the place in which you live – you wouldn’t leave a review when you vacated that property for the benefit of other tenants.”

Being compared to a successful brand like TripAdvisor might sound flattering, but it has often attracted controversy, with hoteliers taking exception at customers’ negative feedback and leaving stinging responses – or threats of defamation suits.

Ms Williams says she is aware of such dangers and will not allow tenants’ reviews to stray into the territory of personal abuse, while also allowing all landlords a right of reply. She adds that around 70 per cent of the reviews left so far have been very positive.

“We’re absolutely not here to rubbish landlords – in fact, we think it’s really important that if you are a good landlord people know about you,” she said, adding that the current state of affairs is unfair on conscientious property owners, who have no way of proving to prospective tenants that they are a better bet than the rogue landlord down the road.

But it is not difficult to find reviews left by some less than happy tenants. “The worst experience of my London renting life,” begins one of a flat in Highbury, before detailing the property’s “mouldy and rotten” window frames, “erratic” lighting and electricity and a bathroom in such bad condition that the renters could not shower for four months.

The launch of RentalRaters was cautiously welcomed by the National Landlords Association (NLA) and tenants’ rights groups – but both warned that it held potential dangers.

Richard Lambert, the NLA’s chief executive officer, said: “The idea of rating your experience of renting a property has an undoubted appeal. [But] while most tenants will in all likelihood provide honest and reliable feedback on their experience, websites like this always under-represent long term and successful tenancies as they focus on rating those that have come to an end – the point at which the relationship between landlords and tenants is potentially most under strain.”

Alex Hilton, director of tenants’ campaign group Generation Rent, added: “While we support anything that empowers tenants in their relationships with landlords and letting agents, the best landlords don’t have a high turnover, which gives a TripAdvisor-style rating system a real challenge. There’s also a danger that schemes could lead to landlords threatening litigation, as we have seen with the Government’s GP rating scheme.”

Rentalraters website: rentalraters.com

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried