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Help at hand for generation rent

PQ magazine went to meet ACCA-qualified Payal Bhavnani, who has launched a website for property renters – @asktenants.co.uk

June 2015

So where do the best business ideas come from? For ACCA accountant Payal Bhavnani hers was born out of frustration. She has spent the past 10 years in rented accommodation in London and found the quality of what was on offer ‘variable’, to say the least.
Living in East Sheen with her five-year-old daughter, her home became infested with moths. There was also mould and condensation everywhere, but she was tied into a 12-month contract. If only there was a website that had warned her of the flat’s problems! Well, now there is – because she has created one. Her free-to-use website is www.asktenants.co.uk and will become the place where current and former tenants can rate a property they live or used to live in. What a clever idea!
The development of the website from an idea pitched to her husband in the kitchen has come a long way in just 18 months. She now has someone who looks after the legal issues and a team of designers in India, plus a website consultant who is helping her with the user interface.
The website has featured in the Evening Standard and Landlord Today, and she has been interviewed by The Russian Times and BBC Gloucestershire to name a just a few. When PQ magazine visited her she had just taken part in a BBC Asian network phone-in show.
Not surprisingly, the website seems to be creating a lot of interest among landlords and estate agents. She is thinking that for phase two she will make the site interactive by introducing landlord/agent accounts with the aim to drive improvements to property standards in the UK.
“I want the website to be a fair place, we don’t want to create a tenants versus landlords’ situation. The key is to make better places for people to live in,” says Bhavnani, who passed her final ACCA exam in 2012 and received membership in January 2013.
She also needs to look at monetising the site as she has spent quite a bit of her savings on the idea. But already there seems to be a lot of people looking to provide her with investment. She has some real decisions to make in the near future. Bhavnani is married to a CIMA-qualified accountant Vijay and they both have good jobs in accountancy, so she has had to do a lot of juggling to get the site where it needs to be. In fact, she says she loves her day-job and has been with the engineering company she works for for a long time. “I think I can still make a difference there,” she told us. Interesting, she said that they have had PQs there and advises that they should always grab the opportunities presented to them. Some don’t and that’s a mistake, she believes.
Her father should perhaps get some credit for Bhavnani’s drive, too. Back in India he was first into selling tyres and then started manufacturing and exporting incense sticks. His daughter helped him with the accounts, and we are talking a big debit and credit book here. She also got involved in the whole manufacturing process and design.
It was when she arrived in the UK that she began her ACCA studies. She is proud that she passed every exam first time, with the help of BPP for the P papers.
Like many part qualifieds she got qualified while working full-time with a child and admits it was a real challenge but it was all worth it at the end.
So, go take a look at the site and rate your property if you are renting. It is a simple procedure; it takes just two or three minutes to register and rate your property. After all, as tenants it is important that you make yourself heard, said Bhavnani.

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