TOLA fair usage policy
Letting Agents

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4 Posts
4 months ago

I've managed my own properties fully since 2010 and I've advertised for new tenants using Online resources since for the same timescale. It's always worked out well, until today.
A tenant started a 12 month agreement in August 2020 and seemed very happy. Then they decided to buy their own house and they gave me early notice on 7th April 2021. I decided to be philosophical and just work with them to try to find someone to take over the tenancy, as long as they would host the viewings - all ok!

I took out a premium advert with The Online Letting Agent (TOLA) for £189. Since then, I've been carrying out telephone interviews on leads sent by TOLA.
Today, I was told that I'd exceed the fair usage policy (which is set at 20 which can be increased with managers discretion to 40). TOLA emailed me today to tell me they have stopped my advertising immediately. I freely admit that I hadn't read the fair usage policy, (my bad) so it was a huge disappointment.

So I'd now like to encourage other LLs to read the small print and avoid my mistake. I simply carried on using the service which had always been great for me, but now it may not be.

So my question is; I need to restart my online advertising campaign pretty quickly.
Who would you recommend? I reckon I need Rightmove and Possibly Zoopla (I haven't been overly impressed with the quality of leads from Gumtree). Which Online advertising service have you been happy with (and have you been hit with any 'fair usage' limits?)

I know that many of the leads that I received were for housing benefit claimants. I don't want to open that particular can of worms, except to say that our rentals policy is to always use an Experian credit check and landlord reference and the Experian affordability ratio tends to be a major challenge for HB claimants. Even so, that's our policy and that helps define our market, so in our evaluation, HB enquiries are rated as a low priority (in our process) as compared to fully employed applicants.

We also state clearly that we don't serve student renters but we've found students being very 'creative' in their applications now. This tends to be found out at the telephone interview stage. Even so, these form part of our leads.

So, which online services do you recommend and which would you not touch?

Grateful for any tips.

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