When landlords and tenants connect, great things happen. OpenRent keeps tenants in the loop while helping landlords manage their properties directly and easily.
Letting agents rank somewhere below traffic wardens and tabloid journalists in the UK public’s affections. So when OpenRent created a platform that connects tenants and landlords directly, it built a community of over 3 million registered users.
“Finding a home to rent isn’t a pleasant experience,” said OpenRent co-founder, Daz Bradbury. “There are so many hurdles and so many pain points. And the experience isn’t much better for private landlords.” Much of the pain comes from letting agent middlemen, who slow down communication and charge admin fees.
The OpenRent team wanted to connect tenants and landlords directly. And, by focusing on volume over high service margins, it can vastly reduce the hassle and cost for both parties.
OpenRent charges landlords a flat fee of £29 to find a tenant, and £49 to set up a tenancy. Landlords are not allowed to add markup fees to any service, such as credit checks, which means both tenants and private landlords save cash.
The service relies on SMS and phone communication, powered by Twilio.
“We send alerts via SMS a lot because it’s just a better way than email,” said Bradbury. “Twilio is absolutely vital to what we do. We send each tenant enquiry through to the landlord via SMS. Viewings are arranged by SMS. If the landlord wants to say that the property is now let, they can reply to the SMS and we’ll take it off the market.”
The team also uses Twilio Client to manage their phone calls. In the very early days of OpenRent, Twilio routed calls direct to Bradbury’s mobile phone, meaning he often answered tenant enquiries at 6am. Once they had a growing customer base, he was able to simply divert calls to the call center using the Twilio API. Twilio Programmable Voice allows for recorded enquiries to be left by phone, and made available to landlords to listen to at their convenience.
“Call operatives can automatically pull the number and look at caller information,” said Bradbury. “Tenants access an automated service to request a viewing or ask for more information. We know what the customer wants, we don’t necessarily have to speak to them. Twilio makes it easy to get this info.”
Twilio is vital to what we do. Being able to process tens of thousands of viewing SMS and phone enquiries. A single high street office wouldn't be able to do that.
Since launch, OpenRent has let over 500,000 properties, with 6.8 million tenant enquiries, including 1.4 million voice recordings—making it the UK’s largest letting agent. Landlords save on average £2,230 per let, and tenants £1,300.
“We rely on technology hugely,” says Bradbury. “Being able to process tens of thousands of viewing SMS and phone enquiries. A single high street office wouldn’t be able to do that.” And, thankfully, this also means no more 6am calls for Bradbury.