About the Service
How is this different from the normal Portico service?
Portico Direct is available nationwide for landlords who are happy to do their own viewings, and want to minimise their advertising costs.
However, for landlords living within a mile of our central London offices, we offer a very popular full lettings and property management service including professional photography, accompanied viewings and property management around our 15 offices in London.
After launching in Manchester and Liverpool last year, we came to the conclusion that the best way to share the Portico magic would be to do it with tech. So we’ve taken our own very clever agency software platform which we have developed in-house over the past 10 years, and adapted it to allow landlords to advertise directly on Rightmove and Zoopla.
About the Service
How are you different to other online agents?
We think we have the best tech platform on the market: we use speech processing, image processing and text algorithms to make the process as enjoyable as possible and most importantly optimise the performance of our property adverts on the portals.
We operate a uniquely sophisticated banking system, which allocates each landlord his or her own dedicated bank account for the duration of the tenancy. Tenant payments can be checked and matched very efficiently, and our high tech accounts module will remind tenants if they have missed a payment or paid the wrong amount. If that happens, we can take cards, bank transfers or even direct debits to recover the funds for the landlords. All for just £10 per month.
And also, we’re the only agent to be able to offer advertising on Rightmove for an incredible £1, with access to Zoopla and OnTheMarket for just £29.
How long will it take to list on the portals?
As soon as the property details are uploaded and the landlord has published the advert, we will conduct a series of checks, then push the property details out to the portals.
Our quality checks include reviewing of the photos, property description and ownership details to make sure the advert meets our advertising requirements for the portals. If any of the elements don’t pass our checks, we will let you know immediately.
Our checking procedure runs 24 / 7 and wherever possible we try to do the validation in a few minutes. If we can’t fully validate the details, we’ll try to publish a provisional advert which complies with our advertising requirements, and gets the property in front of tenants as soon as possible.
Once the property has passed our initial checking procedure, we post to the portals immediately – they typically take up to an hour to update. The property will go live on the Portico website immediately.
If we can’t immediately validate the property details, for example, if a landlord has written a property description which is different to the one provided by our system, we will publish the pre-approved version first. Once the amended version has been approved by one of our on-boarding team (normally within 1 working day), we’ll substitute the provisional version for the original version.
How long will my advert remain live?
Your property will stay live until you either receive an offer, your advertising subscription expires or we pause your listing.
If your advertising subscription runs out, you can easily extend the period of the advert by buying another advertising package.
In some circumstances we may pause your listing. This happens when we receive an unusually high volume of applicants, or we receive reports that the landlord has not been able to respond to tenants in a timely fashion. If it looks like this is becoming an issue, we’ll let you know and give you a chance to address the problem before pausing the listing.
How much rent should I charge?
You can get a free online rental valuation using our rental calculator.
This is constantly updated with the latest market data that we gather from a range of current and historic sources, and allows you to specify the exact postcode of your property, which normally gives a pretty good idea of what your property is worth.
You can even make adjustment for the size and condition of the property.
When setting the rental price of the property, it is much better not to overprice it, otherwise it is likely that you will have limited applicant demand which may result in a rental void or an offer well below your asking price.
It is also worth checking your rental valuation at different times of the year. The rental market has seasonal peaks and roughs in supply and demand, and the rental value could be as much as 10% higher in September compared with December when demand is often weakest.
Do you charge tenants fees?
No – we don’t charge tenants any fees and in fact fees to tenants were banned in 2019.
Tenants are required to pay a holding deposit when they have an offer accepted, but this is refunded to the tenant as long as certain conditions are met. See Holding Deposit section.
What are your landlord fees?
Our advertising fees start from as little as £1, with no obligation to purchase any other services. However, we offer tenant credit checks and referencing, tenancy agreements, deposit registration, rent guarantees and rent collection.
Find out more about the full range of our low cost online lettings services.
How are you so cheap?
Portico Direct was designed to be fully tech enabled, so we’ve taken all of the admin out of the lettings process and put the landlord in the driving seat. That means we have a much lower cost base than traditional agents.
We’ve been working closely with AirBnB for a few years now, and they inspired us to do for the lettings market what they have done for the holiday lets market.
Our margins are small, and we try to offer the landlords the best deals possible – so please spread the word if you like what we are doing.
What is a holding deposit?
The holding deposit is paid as soon as the tenant has agreed the offer, and it shows that the landlord that the tenant is serious about rent the property.
The holding deposit is equal to one week’s rent, and landlords aren’t allowed to ask for more than that. They also can’t subtract fees from it, and they can’t take more than one holding deposit at any particular time for a given property. In fact, as soon as an offer is agreed, we remove the property from rightmove, zoopla and on the market.
When the tenancy agreement is signed, the holding deposit is refunded, usually by putting it toward the first rental payment.
We strongly recommend that holding deposits are not paid in cash. Using our secure portal to pay and retain the holding deposit whilst references are being checked, means there is much less scope for fraud.
What happens if I pull out?
If the landlord pulls out, perhaps because the tenants have failed the reference checks or just because the landlord has changed his mind, then the holding deposit is returned to the tenant in full.
There are equally circumstances where the landlord is entitled to retain the holding deposit. This happens when the tenant withdraws or doesn’t take all reasonable steps to enter into the tenancy. Equally if the tenant provides misleading information which materially affects their suitability to rent the property, or they fail the right to rent checks, then the holding deposit is passed to the landlord.
The holding deposit is held in our client account, and we hold it securely, until the rent is due or a refund is made. If no progress has been made with the tenancy with 15 days, the holding deposit will be refunded according to the guidelines above.
For more information, please see Schedule 2 of the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
We strongly recommend that landlords and tenants transact using our secure payment platform for the protection of both parties.
What are the referencing criteria?
When you make an offer for the property, you must make sure you can afford to rent it.
Our referencing partner carries out a number of checks, but the most important one is that the tenant has a gross salary of 2.5x the rent (or share of rent), and that their employment is likely to last for the duration of the tenancy.
If tenants don’t meet these criteria, they may be able to provide a guarantor, who must be a UK based family member with a gross salary of 3.75x the rent.
The tenant and guarantor must have also have a reasonable credit score, with no adverse credit history (such as unsatisfied CCJs or bankruptcy).
If tenants do not pass our referencing partner’s criteria, the landlord may consider accepting rent in advance.
How do i pay my rent? Can i use cash?
Most tenants pay their rent by bank transfer.
When setting up the tenancy, we use a bank transfer or a debit card payment to take the holding deposit. We strongly advise against offering and taking cash, because proof that payment has been made is much more difficult.
If the landlord has asked us to collect the rent, then we’ll set up a dedicated bank account for that particular tenancy. This means we can quickly check the amounts being paid, and there is no risk of money from one tenancy getting mixed up with another one. You can continue to use the same bank account even if tenants change.
How quickly will i get my rent if Portico collect it?
We accept in-bound payments from tenants around the clock. Once we’ve checked the payment, we’ll transfer the balance the same day – even at weekends.
The only exception to this is at the start of the tenancy, where we hold the funds in our secure client account for 7 days after the tenancy has started. This is to make sure that the tenant has moved in successfully and prevent potential fraud. Once all parties have confirmed that the tenancy has successfully commenced, we then transfer the balance to the landlord.
How do i get my property deposit back?
If Portico Direct has registered the deposit, it will be held by MyDeposits. At the end of the tenancy, both the tenant and landlord log into the MyDeposits platform to agree any deductions, then release the deposit.
In some cases, the landlord may already have his or own scheme set up, in which case he or she may be entitled to hold the deposit themselves, as long as they are signed up to an insurance backed scheme. Or equally, they may opt to transfer the deposit to a custodial scheme like MyDeposits.
In all cases, the deposit must be registered with 30 days of the tenancy commencing.
Where is my deposit held?
If the landlord has asked us to collect the deposit, we will register it with MyDeposits, and send it by bank transfer before the tenancy begins. It is then held within their client account until the end of the tenancy.
As soon as MyDeposits have acknowledged receipt we will let you know and provide you with a Deposit Protection Certificate showing when and where is what registered.
Does Portico have client money protection?
Yes – Portico Direct is part of the Propertymark Client Money Protection scheme. Our scheme number is C0133173.
Rent held by Portico is held in individually designated client accounts. Deposits are transferred to the MyDeposits custodial scheme at the beginning of the tenancy, and are not held by Portico Direct.
Rules and Regulations
What are Right to Rent checks?
Right to Rent checks were introduced as a result of the Immigration Act 2014, and are designed to prevent illegal immigrants accessing rented property in England.
Landlords are responsible for checking that every adult occupant of a rental property shows their identity documentation in person. The landlord must ensure that the identification is valid, and conduct follow up checks if the tenant has a time limited right to rent (e.g. because they have a visa that is due to expire). The landlord must take a copy of the documents seen, and must make a note that the check has taken place.
Acceptable documentation that a tenant can use to prove their identity and Right to Rent are a valid passport, a valid EEA ID card, or a valid UK driving licence and original birth certificate.
Rules and Regulations
What is Prescribed Information?
Prescribed information is information that landlords must provide to tenants if they have taken a tenancy deposit, and important details relating to their tenancy.
The deposit must be protected and the prescribed information must be service within 30 days of receipt of the deposit money.
The prescribed information consists of two elements:
1. Information about the tenancy deposit scheme
2. Information about the tenancy
This information is included in our tenancy agreement, but landlords using their own tenancy agreement must make sure they serve it in an appropriate form.
Failure to provide the prescribed information can result in a penalty of up to 3x the deposit sum, and will prevent the landlord from being able to serve a valid section 21 notice.
Rules and Regulations
Do i need an EPC?
It is a legal requirement to have a valid Energy Performance Certificate when a property is rented. This allows tenants to see how energy efficient the property is, and it grades the property for “A” (most efficient) to “G”, least efficient.
EPCs last for 10 years, and some properties are exempt if they are listed buildings or temporary buildings.
What’s in the tenancy agreement?
The tenancy agreement is one of number of important documents associated with a tenancy.
It documents the key information about the tenancy: the names of the tenant and landlord, the address of the property, the rental amount and frequency and contract start and end date.
It also covers the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords.
Check our our sample tenancy agreement for more details.
How do i sign digitally?
Once the offer is accepted and agreed by both the landlord and tenant, the landlord requests a holding deposit. As soon as the referencing checking has taken place and all tenants have been approved, we send out a tenancy agreement to all parties for signature.
We use digital signatures, which have the same effect as their written equivalents, but have the advantage of allowing all parties to sign the documents remotely and quickly.
As soon as all parties have signed the tenancy agreement, we’ll circulate the final version by email.
What do guarantors need to sign?
If the tenant has a guarantor, the guarantor will need to sign a separate guarantor agreement with the landlord.
The guarantor agreement incorporates the wording of the tenancy agreement as an appendix, so it is clear exactly what the guarantor is guaranteeing. However, the guarantor is not a party to the tenancy agreement – this is only ever between the landlord and the tenant.
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