A Breakdown of The Best Rental Property Platforms In The UK
16 May 2022
Let's put those print adverts behind you and embrace the best rental property platforms in the UK to find a great place for you, all just with some clicks away.
Anybody who tried to buy or rent a home in the past must know how hard and frustrating the process was. You had to go through plenty of newspapers and directories, only to find out that the property couldn't fit into your needs.
Technology, or the Internet in particular, has helped us forget those stories. With just some clicks, anyone can access a listing of thousands of properties to rent in just a few seconds. These websites and apps attract plenty of eyeballs and downloads every month since they are the most convenient tool for renters these days.
If you don't know where to start, or your current site doesn't have what you want, here's a look at the best rental property platforms in the UK that every renter should know.
1. Best Rental Property Platforms In The UK
As the UK's biggest property portals and websites, Rightmove easily snags the top spot of this list. It was founded in 2000 by the country's four largest estate agents: Connells, Royal & Sun Alliance, Countrywide, and Halifax.
With such enormous backing, it's not surprising Rightmove has been the most visited portal for both landlords and tenants in the UK and has extended its operation into some other countries.
The website attracted 15.9 billion visits in 2020, according to Rightmove's official full-year results. There were also more than 19,000 advertisers during the same year, when Rightmove generated revenue of £205.7 million, despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Those figures don't just indicate the strong, growing rental market of the UK, but also show the dominating position of Rightmove compared to its competitors.
The website and companion app are both feature-rich, allowing you to narrow down properties to rent around a specific location or finding rail or tube stations. You can even draw your own area of interest to optimise your selection.
Rightmove also allows you to limit your search to type of property (detached, semi-detached, terraced, flat, bungalow, land, park home, and student halls) and furnishing options (furnished, part-furnished, and unfurnished).
Zoopla is the biggest challenger to Rightmove, but unlike its main competitor, Zoopla doesn't trace its roots into the industry. This rental platform was founded in 2008 by two outsiders, Simon Kain and Alex Chesterman, two internet entrepreneurs who wanted to take on the real estate market.
Over the years, Zoopla has proved a massive success and become the second-largest property portal behind Rightmove.
This platform provides iOS and Android apps in addition to its website, both with many advanced search options for rental properties. Renters can take advantage of Zoopla's “SmartMaps” feature to isolate specific areas and streets while using the “travel time” tool to optimise your commuting distance.
As a leading property rental platform, Zoopla helps users to estimate the monthly running costs of a property, such as the council tax, water, and energy bills. It's also easy to find new-build homes with a dedicated section for this group.
What sets BuildToRent.io apart from the rest of the pack is its sole focus on Build To Rent (BTR) properties. This website is among the first portals specialising in this fast-growing sector of the UK's private rental market. With this very specific focus, they are able to collect market data and provide useful customer insights and development analytics to landlords.
According to the British Property Federation (BPF), the number of completed BTR developments grew by 23% between 2019 and 2020, representing a significant share of high-quality housing2.
Thanks to portals like BuildToRent.io, you will have the chance to seize this opportunity to find a suitable BTR home for you. The website has a clean interface aiming to bring the best offers renters can access from the BRT market.
The search filter is incredibly flexible, including options like furnishing, pet-friendliness, energy efficiency, on-site facilities and amenities, and the amount of tenant's deposit. All the listed properties come from reliable landlords with the newest construction and safety standards.
OnTheMarket is a relatively new contender that was launched in 2015 by a consortium of estate agents including Glentree Estates, Douglas & Gordon, Chestertons, Strutt & Parker, Savills, and Knight Frank.
Its purpose is to grab a big share in the market dominated by Rightmove and Zoopla by creating a full-scale property portal offering a super search experience. This strategy has worked wonders for them, making OnTheMarket the third-biggest portals in the UK.
Renters and homebuyers can access this portal via its website or mobile apps. Its offerings include properties across many cities in the UK, including new and exclusive homes. Users can use a wide range of filters to narrow down options, including property features (driveway, garden, and parking), furnished, let length, and online viewing.
PrimeLocation was launched in 2001 by 200 estate agents, focusing on the middle and upper tiers of the UK property market. It has been part of Zoopla since 2011.
Its website, which attracts over 5 million visitors per month, and mobile apps are a reliable way for renters to find a place across the country and even abroad. You can look for a place to rent among properties from more than 16,000 letting agents.
PrimeLocation adds variety to its selection by suggesting users plenty of ideas, such as waterside properties, rural areas, or places with rich cultural heritage.
OneDome is another new startup in the UK's booming property market. Founded in 2016 by a former Senior Vice President of JPMorgan, it challenges major property portals in the business by bringing a modern user experience to renters and home buyers3.
The website has a clean look, a stark contrast to the chaotic and disjointed interface that many portals still have. Another major difference between OneDome and other “pay-to-list” portals is that listing properties here is totally free. This helps reduce costs that eventually will pass to renters and buyers.
It attracts millions of visitors per month, which can limit their options to different search criteria. These helpful features include whether there are great schools nearby, whether it's an area with a low crime rate, or whether it's a quiet area.
OneDome promises to be with users from start to finish, including booking a viewing and sorting our legal work. This online platform, however, doesn't have a mobile app at the moment.
Founded in 2014, Residential People offers homes and flats for sale and to rent in cities across the UK. Its founders, Nahim Rahman and Christopher May, cite the frustration created by the exorbitant fees charged by other portals as the inspiration to create Residential People.
This platform, like OneDome, promises to be a free-to-list site for agents and property owners. In London alone, Residential People offers more than 32,000 properties for rent.
Users will become familiar with the website's interface quickly. It allows renters to select properties based on furnishing status and energy efficiency class in addition to standard filters like house prices and locations.
Residential People has caught up with other modern rental platforms by providing virtual tours with some properties. Renters can have a closer look at the properties before contacting agents. Some homes and flats listed on Residential People also come with other key information like a potential moving date. All enquiries about interested properties will be transferred directly to agents.
As part of OneDome since 2019, Nethouseprices has been one of the fastest-growing free-to-list property portals in the UK.
Originally specialised in home selling, the platform has extended into the rental market, with thousands of properties to rent available in various cities across the country.
The website attracts around 7 million viewers a month, even though it is run by a small team in this increasingly tough business. It offers a more classic interface with a directory of available offers in each location, providing users with a broad overview of the property portfolio in that area.
Users can switch to the Advanced Search later to narrow down options. Each property also comes with additional information like value trends or crime rate in recent years.
As a property search aggregator, Nestoria works differently from other portals in this list. With just some clicks, renters can access a huge list of properties available on many portals. Nestoria allows users to restrict their search using numerous options, but when they click to view the property, it will lead directly to the original portal.
When you're seeking a property to rent, this will help you save a lot of time by removing the need to open many websites at the same time. Portals from which Nestoria gathers listings include OnTheMarket and OneDome, among others. You can also save your search into your account. When Nestoria has new offers that match your interests, you will receive a notification via email.
2. Final Words
Good online platforms are the best way to start the process of finding a place for you. Due to the competition in this business, more and more websites and apps have brought new options and features to attract renters.
If you want the shortest way to high-quality new builds, have a look at BTR portals like BuildToRent.io, whose streamlined search process will help find a great rental property with the best benefits for you.
- Buy Association, Build-to-rent sector sees strong growth across the UK↩
- Estate Agent Today, Property Natter – who are the challenger portals?↩