Yet another idea from across the pond has found its way to our shores. A consumer focus group have surveyed tenants about whether there should be an online landlord review website a bit like Trip Advisor is to the travel industry. Here, tenants could add their thoughts of landlords. In America the biggest site covers only about 30% of all apartment rentals.
Issues With Landlord Online Reviews
It’s a very one sided viewpoint to only allow tenants have a say. However, having a system which allows them to comment on a neighborhood or the property itself is a possible answer, even though these stats are available already via other sites, I can see it being difficult to moderate.
In theory it’s all lovely and nice, but in practice it would not achieve much. What you would most likely have is a forum where people air their views about their landlords. And we all know how angry and vindictive people can get when writing on forums.
Unsurprisingly 9 out of 10 tenants surveyed said they (-prefer Whiskers- oops sorry-couldn’t resist!) think it’s a good idea. Well of course they would. And while I don’t doubt that there will be some good folk who will share happy lovely experiences of their landlords or agents via an online review system, what is more likely is that it would become a site for vindictive ex tenants to have a go.
A couple Of Scenarios
Picture this; Tenant becomes a nuisance with the neighbors so you decide to evict them. This in itself can be a lengthy process, however, lets assume they leave without too much aggro. Ex tenant then goes on to the review site and calls the landlord all kinds of whatever and invents a load of stuff which never happened because they have a gripe about being evicted.
Or how about this, managing agent is bad at their job. Unresponsive to calls from the tenant and never shows their face when things go wrong etc. Tenant leaves with a gripe and decides to go and report their experience on the web site. In this case, is it not possible that the landlord and the agent will be tarred with the same brush, even though the landlord may have had little control over the situation because they were tied to a contract with the agent?
Placing too much emphasis on one side of a situation leads to bias. And, while an online landlord review site would no doubt flush out some bad landlords or agents, I suspect some perfectly well meaning ones will get taken down in the crossfire between the parties involved. A landlord has to comply with nearly 80 pieces of legislation already, do we rally need something else to make matters even harder for them?
What Other Solutions Then?
Rather than a landlord online review site, what is really needed is a simple overall system with fewer tighter rules based on something similar to the German rental system, which would protect both sides and have the knock on effect of making the housing market more stable price wise over the long term. By having so many rules to comply with, it is inevitable that some will get broken or forgotten. What do you think? Do you think an online landlord rental review site is needed?
Lastly, on the flip side of the coin- what about a site where bad tenants can be listed? Because we all know, there are plenty of those!