In this guest blog, Steph Dunn of Letproof, explores whether the rental industry needs a digital disruptor:
‘The term industry disruptor was originally coined in 1995 by Clayton M. Christensen who recognised the phenomenon of new brands breaking into established markets and using innovation to displace other leading brands.
In some cases disruptors are now brands that are already woven into the modern consumer’s everyday life: Uber being an obvious example. This firm has already changed the way most of us taxi, creating a new model that other companies are now following. Airbnb is another example of a breakthrough company who offered consumers a completely new way to travel: a flexible and cost-effective way that keeps the user in control, while offering fresh ideas and inspiration.
Digital innovation is likely to play a vital role in any disruptor’s strategy these days. Digital disruption is an on-going process because technology is constantly evolving. The disruptors of ten or even five years ago are having to constantly keep up to date or move aside as new names enter the market.
For the rental market, on the whole, the process has been the same for many years, and estate agents rule the show. The way the majority of landlords let their properties and the way the majority of tenants rent their homes hasn’t changed significantly for some time, which allows people to feel comfortable with a familiar process. Yet there are frustrations with this process: Perhaps you’re a tenant and want to view a property after you finish work at 6pm, but your letting agency office closes at 5.30pm? Perhaps you’re a landlord and you’d like more say about who lives in your property? There is a feeling of being trapped in a well-established process that everyone knows and understands, even though the fees are huge and there’s little flexibility.
Online estate agents such as Purple Bricks are taking the industry a step in the right direction, claiming to offer a more transparent process with lower fees than traditional high-street agents due to their lack of overheads, creating a more modern, online model. However, for this industry to be truly disrupted we have to take a look at the Ubers and Airbnbs who have put users in control. Their innovative platforms offer users a new way to do things – a way that is straightforward, easy to use and saves them money, leaving them saying, “why would I want to do it any other way?”
As a landlord you may be able to relate and this is what brought the team at Letproof.com to build a new custom platform that gives both landlords and tenants the freedom to manage their own letting process. As a start-up, the idea is that landlords and tenants meet directly. Landlords have complete control over who rents their property and are supported with marketing to Letproof’s growing database of tenants.
Landlords are having a tough time of it recently, and with the Prime Minister’s ban on tenant letting fees coming into action this year, there are a number of reasons to signal a disruption in this market is imminent.’