Steve Mueller director at Temple Homes tells us more about ethical lettings.

At Temple Homes, our business is founded on the belief that landlords and tenants deserve equal respect. Most tenants will tell you, ethical lettings aren’t common in our industry. For years, renting property in Bristol or anywhere else has been difficult for tenants. You’re often faced with uncertainty from start to finish, a lack of empathy from agents, substandard properties, and charges left, right and centre.

We’re offering investors, landlords and tenants something more ethical. We even now get tenants recommending our lettings services to their landlords. You don’t hear about that happening very often, either.

This is not to suggest that we don’t recognise the importance to our business of landlords entrusting us with their biggest financial asset. Of course, we’re a business and our landlords are looking to profit from lettings, too. We recognise that, and it’s part of the reason why we’ve seen significant year-on-year growth since we set up on Stokes Croft four years ago.

Landlords will find us open with our communication between themselves and tenants, so that mutual respect exists between all parties and that properties are well kept so value is maintained. But that doesn’t mean we’re obsessed with profit to the detriment of social benefit. Business doesn’t need to be done that way these days.

As a relatively new business, we’re small and flexible. Our directors Steve Mueller and Hattie Dembo have been involved in property all their working lives but they’re young, at 30 and 24 respectively.

So we’re lucky that we can establish a company for the future, based on foundations of fairness and equal rights, without being shackled by the burdens which restrict larger agencies.

We’re building a business, and a reputation, based on ethics, on purpose, on doing what’s right for our tenants while still representing the needs of the landlords who entrust us with their largest financial asset.

Benefits for landlords too

We want to become known as the number one ethical lettings company in Bristol. It’s going to be great for tenants, but we feel the approach will benefit your investment in your property as well.

We believe that the only thing which separates a good tenant from a bad one is the respect they have for the agency or landlord that they’re renting from.

The key to this is quality of service, of provision, and good communication. If your property is well kept and if we provide you with good tenants, then mutual respect will serve everyone well. And the value of the property will rise as a result.

Specific benefits we can offer include:

  • no mark-up of contractor costs on managed properties, so you receive a cost-effective service from us
  • quality referencing service – done in-house by Temple Homes staff, so you can be assured in a selection of tenants who are credible, reliable and respectful
  • dedicated service – we’ll meet you out of hours and we go the extra mile to maintain good client relationships
  • on let-only properties, up to four weeks of holiday management cover so you can enjoy your time off
  • for managed properties, a range of bespoke and flexible solutions so that our service can be designed to suit your needs

So, how does this work for tenants?

Temple Homes provides a service which recognises the challenges facing tenants and works with them to find a good roof over the heads of themselves and their families.

We work hard for our tenants, treating them fairly and ethically, finding them homes in well kept properties quickly and with as little stress as possible.

Temple Homes recently joined forces with Ruben Property, which was originally set up by lettings agent Ben Dembo in Picton Street, Montpelier in the 1980s. The company has been kept in the family ever since, being more recently run by Ben’s daughter and Temple Homes director, Hattie.

Now that our two property portfolios are combined, we manage lettings in some 220 properties (and growing) around Bristol.

Hattie can recount stories of her father’s Montpelier office – the same one in Picton Street we’re based in now – opening its doors to queues of people who needed help filling out tenancy forms, often because they couldn’t read or write.

Ben would spend hours helping them get a roof over their head and we bring that ethos, of going the extra mile, to Temple Homes. We feel like the offices in Picton Street are the spiritual home of our company.

So for tenants we can offer the following:

  • an in-house referencing service – we don’t outsource referencing to a third party so you can be sure our service is value for money
  • viewings outside office hours – because we know it’s hard to take time out of work to view properties
  • giving all tenants until 10am the following morning to submit offers – we want everyone who’s interested in a property to have the same chance of being successful
  • written submissions from you to a potential landlord, passed on word-for-word
  • open and honest communication – for example on inspection reports – at all times, between you, us and the landlord
  • no bidding war on rents – once the price is set, we make the landlord stick to it
  • no agency fees transferring from one Temple Homes property to another
  • no renewal fees
  • no Temple Homes profits from landlord contractors.

We’re still getting the message out there to tenants that lettings can be done professionally but in a different way. Our reputation’s growing and we’re confident it’s going to continue. 

A lettings agency to suit Bristol

We’re lucky enough to live in a city where the ethics of the people go hand in hand with the quality of life that we all enjoy. That’s not evident in our market and we want to make it evident.

We try to strike a balance and offer a good service. Temple Homes was set up on the basis that we thought our industry was full of people who were cutting corners to make money. We thought that if we built a business that did things properly we would grow. And we have.

There are plenty of lettings agencies in Bristol but none of them are known for the quality of service – they’re brands which together form a historically problematic industry. We want quality, equality and respect for equity to be our brand.

So we need to be ethical and considerate to the needs of tenants, and aware of the landlords’ needs to profit from their investment. We don’t see a problem with that. We live in a capitalist market which thrives when profit is possible because of competition, which drives quality.

As long as people aren’t costed out of the areas they want to live, that’s not a problem.