Kristjan Byfield filming

The Depositary aims to take pain out of ending tenancy

Co-founder Kristjan Byfield explains why he’s spent three years building a system for streamlining how tenants leave rental property.

If you’ve ever rented before you will remember all too well the ending of your tenancy- and likely for all the wrong reasons, writes

You probably found the process confusing, demanding and spent most of your time worrying where you were in the process, when you were going to get your money back and how much of it would be left.

Many anticipate a slow, drawn-out process often resulting in some questionable deductions being made. However, the reality is that deposits, and how they are managed at the end of a tenancy, is strictly legislated and therefore tenants should enjoy a fair and transparent process.

The process for agents can be even worse. The conclusion of a tenancy is probably the most stressful and demanding part of a let for an agency and yet it is probably the most thankless. As agents, you have a ton of compliance to adhere to, you have to tread the fine line of protecting clients whilst being fair to tenants, you spend the vast majority of your time chasing people and the rest of the time answering questions like ‘when will I get my money back’. Research has shown that the average agent spends five hours per tenancy on this process. That’s over 800 hours per branch.

This is why we have spent three years designing, building and perfecting our platform, The Depositary, in partnership with Tenancy Deposit Scheme; a platform that revolutionises the end of tenancy process for agents, their landlords and tenants alike.

What is it?

A subscription platform for TDS member letting agents across England and Wales that automates and streamlines the end of tenancy process from the moment after notice has been served and received to the point of refund (and dispute if applicable).

Why would an agent want this?

It dramatically reduces the workload involved. Pre-launch testing has seen Base Property Specialists [Byfield and co-founder An Deckers’ other business] reduce their end of tenancy admin from an average of three hours to less than 30 minutes. That’s a saving of 2.5 hours per tenancy or a reduction of over 80% or 550 saved working hours. The average UK branch will save around 600 hours per year. What could you do with an extra 600 hours? By reducing or even eliminating low-value, repetitive tasks and delivering transparency to the process, agents find their role is far more enjoyable.

The Depositary Graphic

What do tenants think?

To date, tenants have loved the platform. The timeline progress wheel feature ensures they understand where they are in the process and how far is left to go. The way deductions are presented, evidenced & negotiated within the platform is seen as more professional and justified with tests to date seeing almost 92% of all proposals accepted by tenants. Feedback from tenants:

  • 90% found the platform ‘much easier than the usual process’
  • 83% found the deduction process ‘easy and fair’
  • 80% found the process ‘much faster than usual’ and also cited that ‘every agent should have this’
  • 9/10 is the satisfaction rating; 30% of those surveyed gave it 10/10
  • 80% have stated they would opt for an agent with this platform over one that doesn’t have it

Who can use it?

The platform is only available to letting agents in England and Wales currently and exclusively to agents who are members of the TDS insured scheme. In the near future, we will be adding the TDS custodial scheme as well as Zero Deposits. Eventually, however, we do aim to be ‘whole market’ both in terms of the UK but also of working alongside any and all deposit schemes or deposit alternatives. We are not available to private landlords, and have no plans at this time to do so, although our platform will be available to large scale landlords such as corporations, build to rent operators who operate agency-scale in-house operations.

Who is behind it?

I am a huge advocate of agency as a profession, as well as the modernisation of agency through the adoption of quality, effective tech. The platform has been completely self-funded by the two of them and they have no plans at present to raise any additional funding.

How much does it cost?

Being agents, especially in the current climate, we knew the platform had to deliver exceptional value. We are still fine-tuning the exact pricing however there will be no set-up fee, there will be no restriction on the number of users and we anticipate a subscription fee of around £50 per branch per month or around £50 per month to process around 250 tenancies a year. In other words, the average branch will pay around £600 per annum to save around 600-man hours- a pretty amazing ROI for an operations platform.

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