Since the dawn of the internet it’s become the norm to inform all major purchase decisions by reading ratings and reviews from users and shoppers who’ve had prior experience of the product you intend to buy.

Who in today’s world would buy a car without checking out at least one What Car review or who’d feel confident splashing money on a holiday in the sun without first turning to TripAdvisor?

Yet, in the world of renting the concept of ratings and reviews has scarcely landed...

At UK lettings marketplace HomeRenter we find this strange for a whole number of reasons. Firstly, the similarities to the review-powered, hosted-stay AirBnB category are compelling. Secondly, in 2017 renting is an increasingly expensive business for both landlords, thanks to changing tax rules and spiralling agent fees, and tenants, who pay on average 47% of their income on rent, alike. As such, finding the right rental, landlord or tenant first time is a fraught decision that nobody wants to get wrong. Thirdly, we believe that the traditional referencing industry and security deposit model are antiquated and in need of a radical shake-up to get in shape for C21st renting. Fourthly, from our own proprietary research it’s abundantly clear both tenants and landlords are looking for more transparency and accountability in the lettings process. 4 in 5 (81%) tenants said they would welcome the chance to rate and review their landlord and rental home on an AirBnb / Tripadvisor style platform, whilst 9 in 10 (88%) landlords said they would welcome a chance to rate and review their tenants in turn.

So, at HomeRenter we’re trying to pioneer a new, more transparent marketplace for lettings and as part of this we encourage landlords and tenants to leave ratings and reviews.

For tenants we invite previous and current landlords to share longform reviews and also ratings, based for mid-tenancy, on metrics such as; prompt rent payment, any noise or neighbour issues, treatment of property and promptness in reporting issues arising; and broadly similar end of tenancy ratings but including scores for the state of returned property and any cause to deduct from deposit. These ratings, and future ratings, are then factored into your HomeRenter tenant score which is visible from your public profile page on the site.

Our long-term ambition is that these ratings and reviews will help enrich your tenant profile and, over time, could help save you and your future landlords money otherwise spent on conventional tenant referencing.

For landlords we invite previous and current tenants to share longform reviews on their experience of them as a landlord but we focus our five star ratings here on their evaluation of the specific rental property (which serves to recognise portfolio landlords might not manage their properties equally with same degree of rigour!). So, on HomeRenter, for tenant ratings of their given rental home we focus on metrics such as value for money, maintenance; transport and responsivity.

Our aim here is to create an even-handed community where tenants don’t feel either that they have to jump through all the hoops or that the cards are stacked against them. So, now they too get the chance to review testimonials from peers commenting on the quality and track record of their future landlord which we feel evens up the currently one-sided referencing dynamic. Obviously we hope this serves as an additional inducement to keep our landlord users honest and mindful of their reputation as a landlord.