The current state of affairs concerning the relationship between landlords and tenants could give away to a total disruption of the entire letting industry. In past, the prevailing assumption was that tenants and landlords will always be in a constant conflict over rent levels, and would thus require a help of a third-party: letting agents.
The role of these agents was – and still is – to match vacant properties with people who are interested in renting them. They could do this much more efficiently than anyone else because they had a dramatic advantage of industry knowledge. Only letting agencies knew for how long a certain property was vacant before it was rented out or what the average renting price is for a particular area.
But all of this has changed thanks to the Open Data Institute and innovation charity Nesta. The two organization hosted a competition with a clear goal: to find out how open data could be used to revolutionize the housing industry, reports The Guardian. The winner of this completion is called RentSquare, and their online solution is designed to connect landlords and tenants without the need for letting agencies. “The first ethical digital rental service helping to reform the private rental market in the UK,” as the service is dubbed, brings tenants and landlords closer together, enabling faster decisions on fair pricing and best-matched tenancies using open data. As a result, tenants can enjoy the most cost-effective properties, and landlords are free from agency fees.
The online solution comes completely without hidden fees, so all involved parties always know ahead what the exact cost is going to be. Each landlord can further personalize his or her tenancy agreement, and the addition of a digital inventory helps to prevent unnecessary conflicts down the lane. Tenants pay only for their reference check. The fee is set exactly at £45 and it’s guaranteed to stay there.
“The majority of landlords are not property magnates, they’ve become landlords by accident,” says co-founder and CEO, Helena Trippe, who blames letting agencies for keeping all useful data secret and manipulating the market.
The key to RentSquare is their complex, intelligent algorithm, that tells London landlords what they can reasonably rent their properties for. Trippe explains that “The lettings market is very murky. Agencies charge high percentages and tenants sometimes pay a high fee to get a property.”
Now, RentSquare is ready to explode into wider public awareness, thanks to a grant from the European open data incubator, ODINE. The company believes that people will in time see the advantages of abandoning the old way and embracing new solutions powered by modern technology.
Lending agents probably have nothing to fear for quite some time, but these first attempts of disturbing the industry could pave the way for more future attempts. Needless to say that it will be very interesting to see what the future will bring and how it will affect property owners and renters across the country.