Four major agencies back Zero Deposit as it finally hits the launch button

The long-awaited Zoopla-backed Zero Deposit scheme has launched, nine months after EYE first unveiled the plans.

The deposit replacement scheme, led by former Zoopla commercial director Jon Notley, has gone live to the public with financial backing from the portal among others.

Connells, LSL, Knight Frank and Acorn Group are all signed up and have invested in the business.

Other agents, so far unnamed, have also agreed to use the scheme.

All users will do so on an exclusive basis, meaning they won’t provide other deposit replacement schemes at the same time but this will be an option alongside the tenant paying a deposit.

Agents will earn a fee for referrals.

The business also has financial backing from Munich Re, adjudicator TDS, JamJar and former Countrywide chairman Grenville Turner.

Tenants will pay the equivalent of one week’s rent for a Zero Deposit guarantee, which is non-refundable and gives the landlord effectively the same cover as a six-week tenancy deposit. This guarantee is backed by insurer Munich Re and is a regulated financial product.

The tenants remain fully accountable for any damage or unpaid rents. Any disputes over claims by the landlord can be sent to TDS, who will review the evidence and provide a fair adjudication. Zero Deposit pays the landlord quickly in the event of an approved claim.

Jon Notley, co-founder and chief executive of Zero Deposit, said: “We are delighted with the level of support and participation that Zero Deposit is attracting.

“We have spent considerable time and resource developing the product with the support of our partners and with the aim of ensuring that Zero Deposit is the best in class.”

“Zero Deposit is helping to solve a real affordability issue for tenants, whilst giving landlords effectively the same protection as the traditional tenancy deposit, and supporting agents by giving their customers another option to speed up the rental process.”

Tim Hyatt, head of lettings at Knight Frank and former president of ARLA, added: “Zero Deposit will support renters entering the market by reducing the upfront financial burden and offering an alternative to the traditional deposit.

“The robust nature of its offering is why we have given it our backing. Given the constant raft of legislative changes taking place in the lettings industry on an almost monthly basis, it is great to see such a positive, well-executed initiative coming to the market.

“As renting is now becoming an increasingly popular choice rather than simply a necessity, it is important that we are able to provide valuable support to help people secure a tenancy.”

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17 Comments

  1. Parky7863

    Although there has been a lot of complaint about the fees ban, when you look at this and other services hitting the market, it (the fees ban) has been a catalyst for some really interesting innovation.

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  2. Aurora12

    The business has financial backing from Munich Re,…. adjudicator TDS, …………

    TDS will provide a fair adjudication.

    Is there not a conflict of interest here? Shouldn’t both the Insurer and the Adjudicator be completely independent? If both have invested, aren’t they more likely to make sure that the Landlord gets AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE in any dispute, despite any 6 week cap?

    Apologies if I’ve misinterpreted this.

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    1. jonnotley35

      Aurora – thanks for your note and this important question. 

      TDS already have a clear separation between their commercial and adjudication functions. Rulings are made based on the evidence by their expert adjudicators and Zero Deposit pays the landlord based on these findings.

      The tenant remains fully responsible for any financial loss or damage, so the adjudication process is there to ensure that any payments made by us to the landlord are backed by evidence, before we seek recovery from the tenant. The comfort of having TDS involved from a landlord perspective is that if there are issues at the end of the tenancy, then if they would get paid from a cash deposit, they will get paid from the Zero Deposit guarantee.
       

      Hope that makes sense but please feel free to get in touch if you have any further questions.

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      1. Aurora12

        Hi Jon, many thanks for early response. Makes sense apart from ambiguity of your statement…… “before we seek recovery from the tenant”.

        As Property Peep said last year:-
        Property Peep
        MAY 26, 2017 AT 09:47
        So to summarise, the tenant who is quite sure that they will look after the property and get their full deposit back will continue to use the traditional route as it will not cost them anything, and if they are short of funds could put it on a credit card with a low APR.
        The tenant who knows they may damage the property, not trust themselves with other peoples stuff will opt for the insurance policy as it will only cost them 1 weeks rent as a deduction ?
        I think we are all after the first option tenant ?

        The  one-off upfront (1 wk. equiv.) Insurance Premium will be the Tenant’s TOTAL outlay. No ‘stick’ as an incentive to maintain a property.
        And surely Zero Deposit’s Net Profit/dividend payments to shareholders will, by human nature, be in the forefront of an Adjudicator who has invested in the company?

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        1. KByfield04

          Ultimately it offers Tenants another option- the site is very clear (unlike some others) that their one week fee is just that and they are still liable for any & all end of tenancy related charges that would normally be deducted from a deposit. What this will mean, however, is that agents & landlords will need air tight processes and paperwork- in normal cash deposit situations tenants can be more accommodating of some deductions in order to secure their balance asap, in this instance any deductions will effectively be disputed by the tenant and then ruled on by TDS with no cash held from them. Ultimately its about choice and an evolving market.

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  3. SLP

    Sorry might have missed something here, but I thought the idea was to get rid of fees?

    Currently if a tenant looks after a property they get all of their deposit back – with this scheme it appears to cost the tenant the equivalent of a weeks even if the property is in perfect condition??

     

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    1. lettingsguru

      I don’t know the details of the scheme, but I rather suspect that the one week payment is an insurance premium, and therefore not a fee, and the tenant always has the choice to pay a deposit equal to 6 weeks rent or go on the no deposit scheme. Either way the Landlord has the benefit of cover, and the tenant has the benefit of choice.

      No doubt the agent will be receiving a commission based on the sale of the no deposit insurance, replacing some if not all of the lost applicant fee.

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      1. cybelex

        Hmmm ‘the one week payment is an insurance premium, and therefore not a fee’; if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck …

        If, ‘the agent will be receiving a commission based on the sale of the no deposit insurance’, isn’t it more likely that they will ‘require’ the tenant to take the insurance …?

        Unless I don’t understand how the scheme is set to work (which is entirely possible and I’m just asking the question), this protection is for the landlord, which is absolutely fine, but the landlord should therefore pay for this type of protection if they want it, as opposed to the protection they get from the deposit.

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      2. KByfield04

        Under the fee ban agents will not be able to force tenants to take out such a prooduct however the tenant can choose to if they would rather that then tiw up a cash deposit.

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  4. singlelayer

    It’s still limited to six weeks (£6-700 in my locale). A homeowner guarantor gets me the full amount (often around £2k), so no interest to me here.

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  5. just saying

     
    Very interesting. Same old corporates with vested interests and TDS are totally compromised. As significant investors in Zero Deposits how can TDS have real independence?
    Throwback to corporates backing portals, look how that worked out…………
     
     
     

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  6. Ryan Baker

    And how many think that it’s going to be easy to claim damages and 6 weeks arrears or Rent? Many weeks of to/fro emails and arbitrary. Rather pay the £20-£30 to buy regular insurance based deposit protection and keep control of finances. Most landlords now buying insurance than custodial deposit

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  7. PropProvocateur42

    DLighted & Reposit both out of business so its now between Zero Deposit & Canopy? ZDS seems better for the agent with commission but I smell a big risk of PPI style misselling. Canopy Rentpassport also provides free referencing, is cheaper (I think?) and also much better for the renter.

    Whatever happens, writings on the wall for the deposit schemes.

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  8. andy halstead

    Let Alliance, deposit replacement scheme fully integrated with tenant referencing and rent guarantee. Already working with 1500 professional, independent agents.

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  9. Michael

    I read the below on your LA website Andy, it sounds a pretty expensive ongoing cost for a Nil Deposit with extension costs, renewal costs and the requirement for liability insurance !  As someone else pointed out, if a tenant has the choice between paying 6 weeks refundable deposit or a series of ongoing smaller fees (banned?) the better tenant will want the former and the less good tenant will want the latter.

    For Tenants

    The tenant pays a Nil Deposit service charge equivalent to 1 week’s rent plus VAT to Let Alliance
    Our Nil Deposit service manages the payment of any entitlement to you from your tenant, up to a maximum of 6 weeks’ rent, for any breach of the tenancy agreement mutually agreed
    The tenant reimburses Let Alliance for the sum agreed, or determined by an independent adjudicator in the case of a dispute, within 14 days of notification
    For rentals with more than one tenant, a lead tenant is nominated
    Tenants’ liability insurance is in place for the complete tenancy term and if not provided by Let Alliance, a copy of the insurance certificate is provided
    For tenancy extensions a Nil Deposit extension service charge of £25 plus VAT is payable  to Let Alliance, and the Scheme is renewable every 12 months as a minimum

    For Landlords

    Nil Deposit as an alternative to a traditional deposit encourages more interest and applications from tenants for properties offering this choice
    Providing choice assists in renting properties faster and shortens void periods

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  10. KByfield04

    Congrats to Jon on the launch and (having been a vocal critic of some of these products and the way they present themselves- especially to tenants) congrats on a simple, clear & concise offering.

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  11. ChumpExecutive

    “The beneficiary of the insurance is your landlord, but you have to pay the premium/fee. You receive no material benefit, as you remain liable in full for all unpaid rent and dilapidations. If you pay us a normal deposit and behave yourself, you would expect to get all your money back. If you buy this insurance, you can be sure of never seeing one week’s rent again”.

    I’ve tried this sales pitch on rental applicants and its not met with universal success. Can anyone give me some coaching tips?

     

     

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