Are You Putting off Good Tenants with High Upfront Costs?

A great way to put tenants off your property is to demand a big lump-sum payment before they can move in. This lump-sum is usually the amalgamation of:

  • Holding deposit
  • Security deposit (six week’s rent)
  • First month’s rent upfront
  • Agency fees
  • Referencing, inventory, etc.

It isn’t uncommon for these fees to add up to well over £2,000 per tenant.

Even though each sum may be justifiable, many tenants simply don’t have that kind of money available upfront, even though they could very well afford the monthly rent and go on to be great tenants.

Often, when searching for a rental property, tenants are still waiting for their previous security deposit to be returned to them from their last tenancy, adding further financial constraints.

High upfront costs put off more tenants than you imagine. Lowering them will help you attract more enquiries from tenants.

Here is how to lower the upfront cost to tenants without putting yourself at financial risk.

Holding Deposit

This is the first sum that a tenant will have to pay when moving into a property. Making it as cheap as possible will greatly aid enquiries from tenants.

The holding deposit has two goals. You should make it big enough to achieve these goals but no bigger. The holding deposit must:

  1. Put off timewasters
  2. Cover yours costs if you can’t move forward with the tenant

How much do you need to take to achieve these goals?

To achieve the first goal, only around £200 is needed. From our experience with millions of tenant enquiries, £200 will deter time-wasting tenants.

The second goal is ensuring you are covered against lost rent if a tenant pulls out last minute and your property is left empty for extra days.  Let’s look at a worst-case example:

The out-of-London average UK rent is £779pcm. A worst-case scenario might be that a last minute drop-out causes a week of lost rent. At this price, you will only lose £179 [assuming ((£779*12)/365)*7]

We can see from this hypothetical scenario that large holding deposits are very rarely needed to cover the landlord’s risk.

If you advertise four weeks ahead of your property being available then you should have more than enough time to find new tenants in the rare event of your first tenants failing referencing.

With OpenRent, our average let time is just 9 days.

You can further protect against costly void periods with a landlord insurance policy that has void period coverage. This will allow you to charge a lower holding deposit, which will attract more tenant enquiries, and make void periods less likely!

Security Deposit

Security deposits offer less flexibility than other upfront costs. In practice, it is very uncommon to ask for anything other than either one month’s rent or six week’s rent.

On the principle of lowering the upfront lump sum to pursue your property, we would recommend lowering your deposit from six week’s rent to one month’s rent wherever possible. Large deposits put tenants off your advert, so lowering the deposit will help you gain more attention.

Agency Fees

Agency fees for tenants can range massively. Government figures suggest an average of £318. Citizens Advice  puts it at £337. Research by Shelter found 1 in 7 pay over £500 in fees.

So how can you lower tenant’s agency fees? You can simply choose to use agents that don’t charge tenants any fees. They do exist. OpenRent is the largest letting agent in the UK, and we charge no admin fees to tenants.

If you use an agent that charges tenants less money upfront, you will get more enquiries. OpenRent don’t charge tenants any admin fees, and only charge £20 to cover referencing if you require it. You won’t find an agent that asks for less from tenants!

List your property on OpenRent today for free!

First Month’s Rent

We would never recommend allowing a tenant not to pay the first month in advance. Therefore, there isn’t much room for maneouvre here.

We have found, however, that tenants are much happier paying for the first month’s rent when they pay it to a reputable third party.

The tenants feel safer when a third party is securing the rent because it means that, should their new landlord turn out to be fraudulent, they won’t lose their rent money.

You can do just this with OpenRent’s Rent Now service. With us, the tenant will be much happier to pay, as they know they are paying their first month’s rent to the UK’s largest letting agents, who will protect it for them until they have moved in.

This extra level of trust will help you receive more enquiries. We will then pass on the rent to you after a short holding period of 7-14 days.

Use Rent Now here for a full tenancy creation solution! Only £49 all in!


  • Remove fiscal barriers to enquiring about your property by lessening upfront costs
  • Target:
    • Holding deposit
    • Security deposit
    • Agency Fees
    • First Month’s Rent
  • The lower the upfront costs, the more tenants will be able to afford your property

6 Replies to “Are You Putting off Good Tenants with High Upfront Costs?”

    1. Hi John, we send SMSs to users, but they have no charge for the user. Replying to should not cost anything more than whatever a text costs in your usual phone plan.

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