With a service that helps landlords compare letting agent fees and ratings, we thought it was time we caught up with one of the co-founders of Rent Round, Rajdeep Dosanjh.
1 – Let’s start on the tricky subject of politics, how do you think landlords will fair under the current Government led by Boris Johnson?
There’s of course been increased regulation and taxes in the property market in recent years, which has applied a lot of pressure in the market.
In addition, wider regulations such as the push of the IR35 rules into the private sector is also applying a lot of frustration (and outrage!) to the flexible workforce and people in business.
A lot of the promises under the conservative government have been pro-business.
My personal opinion is I think Boris will change tact and tread carefully in the years to come. I think he’ll reduce the rate of additional adverse change across industries.
On the other hand, I don’t think a rollback of changes in recent years is on the cards either, unfortunately. There’s just too much face to save to consider pulling back regulation put in place under the previous regime.
I’m placing my bets on the status quo continuing, without any further disruptions impacting the rental market and landlords.
2 – And what about Brexit, now it’s finally going ahead, what do you expect the impact on landlords to be?
Due to the uncertainty of how EU nationals will be impacted, there has of course been a drop in the number of EU nationals migrating to the UK.
As already well reported, London in particular has seen rental growth targets not met. For landlords this means lower than expected income increases.
The labour market has also felt the strain.
Many of my contacts in the construction industry have experienced a reduction in available labour. The scepticism of European nationals on the future restrictions that may apply to them means they are less inclined to work in the UK.
Landlords looking to flip properties, add extensions or make property improvements, may face higher costs due to the decreasing supply in the labour market
3 – If you could wave a magic wand and implement one single policy to help landlords, what would it be and why?
Interest paid on mortgages now isn’t tax deductible for landlords operating their buy to let(s) privately.
Alternatively, landlords operating their buy to let(s) under a business still can.
To add further difficulty, switching a property from a private to business owned has further stamp and Capital Gains Tax implications.
I think that’s unfair as the underlying ownership of these properties is commonly an individual.
Some were lucky to guess right and use a business structure. The change could have been applied to business-owned property also.
My magic wand would enable a period of time for individuals to switch their properties to a business structure, free of stamp and Capital Gains Tax implications. Depending on how good my wand is, I’d go even further and roll back the tax hikes for privately managed buy to let’s!
4 – Short-term holiday lets have seen a huge surge in popularity thanks to brands such as Airbnb. What would you say to someone considering turning their rental property into a holiday let?
Moving away from longer-term rental setups to holiday short term lets, of course, has financial benefits.
But like with any higher reward initiatives, the risk is higher too.
You need to be confident that your property can generate enough interest outside of the busiest periods in order to deliver the rewards.
Landlords opting for this mechanism should also have a buffer available to cover any stark periods.
With the increasing popularity of short term lets, landlords need to be cognizant of supply increases. With more supply, margins in short term letting maybe squeezed
5 – Rent Round gives landlords an easy way to compare letting agent fees, but what gave you the idea to create such a business?
I’ve got a number of properties myself and I was on the search to switch out my agent.
The main reason was the fees were too high and the service wasn’t meeting my expectations.
In my area there are so many agents, I was spoilt for choice.
But when you have a lot of choices, making sure you’re getting the best deal is difficult. Usually a lot of calls have to be made, fees need to be compared and a lot of small print needs to be examined.
Thankfully, I found the process of finding an agent tiring.
I sat staring at my screen thinking wouldn’t it be easier to pick an agent just like I pick my insurances, using a comparison site.
This gave me the spark to create the platform myself!
I have a background in computer science and property so those two disciplines fitted together nicely for me to get the ball rolling. I just haven’t quite found how my years in banking & finance plays it’s part yet!
6 – So far, what has been the most challenging aspect of getting Rent Round off the ground?
It’s a very generic answer, but having enough time while Rent Round was experiencing rapid growth in the initial months was a big challenge.
My attention was needed on the site design, refining methods of attracting landlords and building relationships with agents.
I’m so thankful for the team around me. Their attitude, focus and drive is why Rent Round is succeeding.
Aside from time, dealing with highs and lows, something all entrepreneurs face, needed to be overcome.
When the business is new, the smallest positive can bring feelings of euphoria.
While small issues can bring despair!
Whether it’s a technical issue, funding delays or marketing not going as you planned, disciplining your despair is a skill that’s key when starting up.
Gladly now the platform is moving towards what we envisioned, the idea has proven to be a success and growth is exceeding expectations
It’s easier to be calmer now… but it still has its moments!
7 – What are the main benefits for landlords using your service?
Firstly we increase transparency for landlords. Letting agent fees are in one place so it’s easier to pinpoint agents to select.
Aside from fee transparency, Rent Round also shows how far agents are from the landlords property, what regulatory affiliations the agent has and a direct link to the agents fee page for further research.
This paints a wide scale, detailed picture of letting agents to choose from.
Our objective is to save landlords time and money.
8 – And what about the letting agents you feature? What are the advantages for them of joining your platform?
Our model is very simple. We provide letting agents leads.
As landlords compare agents, they can then choose an agent(s) to have further discussions with.
We don’t take any commission from deals made. Therefore we’ve scrapped any burden of paperwork, tracking deals and transferring commission amounts.
9 – Where do you see your business going? What are we likely to see next from Rent Round?
I’ve only achieved 10% of the aspirations I have for the company.
We’re adding to our rental proposition and expanding into the buy and sell side.
In addition, we’re UK based currently. But now we’ve proven then concept, growth into other countries is on the cards for sure.
I’m really pleased with progress to date and have thoroughly enjoyed helping letting agents and landlords.
There’s a lot of hard work ahead, but it really doesn’t feel like work.
Growing the company is exciting and everyday brings its own developments.
I run a consultancy for the banking & finance industry as well as my own martial arts club. Across all 3 there are promising times ahead, but I see the most potential by far in Rent Round.
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