News | Landlords accused of 'incentivising' tactics in Union Awards

Large landlords have come under criticism after offering prizes to their tenants in exchange for nominations in the Leeds Landlord Awards.

The prizes were offered over social media. One piece of marketing material posted to Twitter by Parklane Properties stated: “Vote for Parklane as ‘Large Landlord of the Year’ in the Leeds Landlord Awards and if we win we’ll throw a huge party to celebrate.” The post was an attempt to gain a place in the shortlist for the award.

A spokesperson for Parklane said: “We were following with what other landlords have been doing to promote [the awards].”

The spokesperson added that the promotion was “not intended to get new tenants” and instead was meant to “encourage our tenants to feel that if they’ve had a good time with Parklane we can celebrate together.”

Other sought-after awards included ‘Value Deal of The Year’.

Landlord company Rent Inc posted on their official Twitter account: “If we win ‘Value deal of the year’, we’ll throw a party for you all!”

A spokesman for Rent Inc said: “We are following the Leeds Landlord Awards guidance of encouraging tenants to enter, (they offer students the chance to win £50 vouchers if they nominate) and the party is all about celebrating our achievements with our tenants if we win.”

They added: “We promoted the awards across a range of social media channels (as recommended by Leeds Landlord Awards) and obviously Twitter is restricted on the amount of characters you can use, whereas our Facebook posts go into more detail on the great services we offer and why we think tenants should vote for us.”

Other landlords who have offered prizes in exchange for votes include Abode Rentals, who offered students a free Nando’s Gift Card, and Spencer Properties who offered tickets to see the Leeds Rhinos for students who filled out the nomination form in their office.

A spokesperson for Spencer Properties said: “We offered an incentive the same as some other landlords did and offering Leeds Rhino tickets made sense as Spencer Properties sponsor Leeds Rhino’s. We know that our tenant group are an intelligent bunch with very busy schedules and we just wanted to encourage our tenants to nominate so we had their feedback and it is up to them if they nominate us or not.”

A spokesperson for Abode also saidː “The opportunity to win the [Nando’s Voucher] was offered as a thank-you for taking time away from their studies to help Abode gain recognition in a competition which holds a great deal of importance to us.”

Abode have been included in the nominations for Large Landlord of the Year, while Spencer have been nominated for both International Students’ and Postgraduates’ Landlord of the Year.

The Leeds Landlord Awards are run by a partnership of students’ unions from each of the major Leeds universities, including LUU.

A spokesperson for the Union said: “If landlords choose to offer incentives to encourage their tenants to nominate then as long as they are not attempting to manipulate the feedback and distort their service then we are happy for landlords to offer reasonable incentives.”

They added: “We have noticed that there are no significant spikes in the number of nominations from landlords who have chosen to offer incentives and there are some landlords who have offered incentives who have received no nominations at all.”

A second-year, studying Medical Microbiology, said that the landlords’ tactics could be compared to bribery “if they’re getting people to vote for them in the awards who otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Sean Hayes

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