In the Spotlight with Ben Grech

We caught up with Ben Grech, CEO at Reposit and asked him about tenancy deposit alternatives and current challenges in the rental market.

Related topics:  Finance,  tenants,  Deposit,  Spotlight
Property | Reporter
20th July 2023
Ben Grech Reposit 024

PR: How did you get into property and what's your current role?

BG: My interest was sparked from a young age when I was around 17 and became interested in business and investing. I realised early on that property is a fascinating asset class and being a sector everyone interacts with at some point, innovations within the space can have a large and positive impact.

"My first company was a rental marketplace which operated across Europe and this gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for the industry. It also led me to Reposit where I’m now CEO.

PR: Why would a landlord choose to use a deposit alternative product? What's in it for them?

BG: There are multiple reasons but direct feedback from landlords shows that the biggest draw is the additional protection we provide. Landlords benefit from eight weeks' worth of rent as protection against damages and rent arrears at the end of the tenancy.

A study across almost 20,000 tenancies showed deposits of five weeks' rent did not provide landlords with enough protection in 14% of tenancies. This is a revealing stat and highlights that cash schemes do not always provide landlords with the right level of protection.

The challenge with cash deposits is that they require all tenants to pay 5 weeks’ rent at the start of the tenancy (even though almost 60% of tenancies end without any deductions needing to be made), so there is a limit to how much landlords can ask (and Government can allow) before creating serious affordability issues for tenants. As it stands 30% of tenants are forced to borrow to fund their cash deposit. Reposit provides the right level of protection for landlords without burdening tenants.

PR: How does Reposit differ from its competitors?

BG: Reposit provides a fully compliant and FCA-regulated product that offers the most generous and secure cover for landlords, with a seamless end-of-tenancy process which is more streamlined than dealing with a cash deposit. Reposit reduces admin time and ensures quick settlements at the end of tenancy, even when the charges are disputed.

Deposit alternative offerings are split into two camps. The regulated and insurance-backed products and unregulated, non-insurance products. The robustness of insurance-backed offerings is attractive but many are sceptical of making an ‘insurance claim’ which generally has a reputation for being difficult and tedious.

Reposit provides all the benefits of a robust, insurance-backed product with none of the typical issues – the InsurTech industry terms this “invisible insurance”. We have facilitated a streamlined process through our superior, user-friendly platform which results in fast and consistent payouts, with the added benefit of extra protection for our landlord customers.

PR: Other than not having to save a lump sum, why else do tenants choose to use Reposit?

BG: More and more tenants are starting to view deposit alternatives as a better option because they pay one week's rent (as a non-refundable fee) and can hold on to the rest of their cash to save and invest, instead of locking it into a cash deposit scheme where it doesn’t generate any interest for them. With inflation over 10% and interest rates now at 5%, tenants are realising the true cost of paying a hefty cash deposit.

Additionally, many tenants feel burnt by previous rental experiences after incurring charges at the end of a tenancy which they felt were unfair. A lot of the time, tenants can't afford to go through the long process of a formal dispute because they need their deposit back for their next move. With Reposit, they can pay for what they owe, when they owe it and there is no one sitting on their money in the meantime.

The reliability of Reposit's tenants shows in our data which confirms 56% of tenancies end without charges and less than 5% end in a formal dispute.

PR: And what about letting agents? What do they say about deposit alternatives?

BG: The agency business thrives when it serves tenants and landlords efficiently and adds real value. Reposit is a great way to enhance their offering while also reaping rewards for their business.

We have created a product that is more efficient than cash and delivers a win-win situation for agents, landlords and tenants. Specifically for agents, Reposit cuts admin time around the end of the tenancy process, reduces risk, enhances their offering to landlords through increased protection and generates a new, fully compliant income stream.

PR: With the current challenges in the rental market including landlords exiting and rents rising, how would you like to see the government tackle the issue?

BG: The thrust of Government policy has been to improve standards in the Private Rental Sector (PRS) for tenants while also encouraging more people onto the housing ladder. However, some policies have been counterproductive because they have overburdened landlords causing many to sell up.

To ensure more tenants have an affordable, safe and comfortable home, they need choice and the only way to achieve this is to have a larger supply of houses in the private rental sector. Ultimately the number of homes being built is key, especially those created for rent. Inviting landlords into the sector and encouraging them to stay with appropriate and consistent taxation and regulations, is vital to the long-term health of the market.

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