How to challenge the market? Scrap deposits.

By Neil Young

CEO
Get Living London

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How did I know when we’d become a true disruptor? When every industry meeting over the last few weeks has started with ‘Why did you do it?!’.

Last month we announced that deposit-free living is now our norm. We no longer take a security deposit from residents who pass referencing or have a guarantor. We’re also set to return around £3 million to our current residents.

So, why did we do it?

For the first four years, we charged a six-week security deposit because that was what was done. The assumption has always been that residents couldn’t be trusted and – by holding thousands of pounds of their cash – landlords could easily recoup damages.

Well, in the spring I was looking at our figures. On average, we were taking just a few hundred pounds out of household deposits. We were only needing to recover just a few days’ rent.

So why did we hold £3 million of our residents’ cash? We don’t benefit, our residents certainly don’t benefit.

We knew others had reduced the amount required – down to just three weeks in some cases – but if we reference and trust that our residents will pay their rent, why wouldn’t they look after the home or pay for any outstanding damages when they moved out?

Incentive. Some counselled that residents would lose the incentive to not damage their home. I still believe that the majority of residents take great pride in where they live. Instead of incentivising in the negative, we now waive any damages up to one week’s rent. If it goes over a week’s rent, the full amount needs to be paid. So, for most of our residents, there’s no deposit to hand over at the beginning and no charges at the end of their tenancy.

While the industry has been left reeling, we have been overwhelmed by the response from prospective residents. We know we are tapping in to one of the last remaining burdens for renters. In fact, renting with Get Living is a positive, proactive choice and one that means being part of vibrant and exceptionally well-connected neighbourhood.

There have also been celebrations from our 3,000 residents who will start to have their deposits returned in full from next month. We are proud to stand up and say we trust them enough to hand back their money. We can do this at Get Living because we have the scale and track-record to know it will work.

We were the first major institutional mover in PRS, bringing 1,439 homes to East Village, the former London 2012 Athletes’ Village. Our residents benefit from our commitment to delivering incredible service that includes our Relationship Management team on site seven days a week. We don’t use agents or charge fees, we offer three year leases with resident-only break clauses as standard while, within contracts, rent increases are aligned with CPI.

We were the first to revolutionise the rental experience in the UK so why shouldn’t we be the first to scrap deposits?

Key benefits of Get Living’s deposit-free agreement:

  • New residents benefit – Get Living renters who pass referencing or have a guarantor will no longer need to find six weeks’ rent at the beginning of their tenancy – an immediate cashflow benefit
  • Existing residents benefit – Get Living will be returning security deposits to approximately 3,000 residents, releasing around £3 million back into the UK economy
  • Changing renting in the UK – This announcement supports Get Living’s mission to deliver a better way of renting and where Get Living has led, others have followed. Since it launched in 2013 with no fees and longer contracts, all major UK political parties and other large landlords have made similar commitments.