The rise of rental rating sites: Should landlords be worried about bad rental reviews?

Brunette studying on laptop and enjoying coffee
Woman on a laptop

With the advent of social media came the ability for anyone and everyone to voice their opinions to a broad audience. Some clever people saw that, had an idea and ran with it by creating valued sites where people can go to find out what’s good and what’s not, such as TripAdvisor and Yelp.

These sites are useful for consumers who can then make informed decisions about which companies will deliver the best service and value for money. It’s also useful for holding organisations who don’t deliver on their promises to account – and has the potential to have a real effect on reputation and the bottom line.

Why is this relevant to landlords?

There are now rating sites for almost every sector, including the private rented sector (PRS). This means that if your property isn’t up to scratch, you don’t complete maintenance and repairs in a timely manner, or there’s another reason why your tenant is unhappy, your online ratings could take a hit.

The idea of rating your rental experience has an undoubted appeal. It’s common for properties to be viewed before an agreement is signed, but tenants, especially Millennials and Gen Z, are increasingly likely to also use Google to find out more about you and how you operate. While this may sound scary to some, from a consumers’ perspective, this is standard research.

Choosing where you live is one of the most important decisions you can make. As with other big decisions, research is vital. Think about it: you wouldn’t buy a car without a) taking it for a test drive, and b) finding out all you can about the type of car you want, eg its safety and efficiency ratings. Using online rating systems is part and parcel of this.

While existing landlord/rental rating sites are yet to be fully established, it could still have a serious effect on your lettings business if potential tenants use these sites before committing to a new tenancy, and find a bad review.

But what about GDPR?

The NLA advice line has received a number of questions from landlords concerned that tenants identifying them on rental rating sites would be in breach of GDPR. This is rightly a concern but,  as a landlord, your details would be considered that of a business, and would not be relevant to GDPR. In short, there’s nothing stopping tenants from giving you a bad review.

So what can landlords do to make sure they aren’t affected by bad ratings?

In short, if you’re a good landlord there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. Bad ratings come from bad experiences, and bad experiences are more likely to be publicised than good experiences.

However, while most tenants will in all likelihood provide honest and reliable feedback on their experiences, the majority of long-term and successful tenancies will be under-represented, particularly because reviews are most likely to be given when the tenancy is coming to an end – the point at which the landlord-tenant relationship is potentially most under strain.

2 thoughts on “The rise of rental rating sites: Should landlords be worried about bad rental reviews?

  1. I disagree that most tenants will give a fair review and so the landlord should not be worried, the tenants that leave a review are mostly tenants with a grudge or those that do not fully appreciate that they were wrong in their thinking. I have had many unwarranted reviews and it’s just too time consuming to keep responding to them to explain that they are misguided or wrong. I had one that left a bad review after the DPS adjudicator had ruled against them, what are we supposed to do recite all the facts of the case? Google are particularly bad as you can not turn off the review facility altogether. There is not enough profit in our business for us to employ someone to monitor and fully respond to bad reviews.

  2. No.
    Landlords who carry out this business of renting out their property correctly: Don’t charge Tenancy Agreement renewal fees of over say £25. Don’t charge a Checking Out fee.
    Respond immediately to their tenants request for assistance to an issue with the property. Carry out Regular Inspections. Provide an Inventory with photos when tenants Move In and have the Inventory with them on Check Out. Don’t charge for anything which is “normal” wear and tear. Meet their tenants. Should not be worried.
    Its the agents acting for the landlords who are the problem; excess signing up fees, Tenancy Renewal fees of over £25, most charge over £100 some over £150,plus they charge the Landlord as well. Check Out fee Min £90. Will not respond/reply to a tenant who has an issue with the property or lies and makes false promises.
    Plenty like this Portsmouth who should be shut down.

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