THE BLOG

How We're Shaking Up The Rental Market With Technology

25/05/2016 16:03 | Updated 25 May 2016

tech-for-good

Technology has always been at the forefront of our mission to challenge the London rental market. Born out of a data challenge from the Open Data Institute and innovation charity NESTA, we set up RentSquare last summer to revolutionise the lettings industry.

By connecting landlords and tenants online, and using open and user generated data to find that rental sweet spot, we have since had BGV investment and European funding to promote ethical practices and to help revolutionise the housing industry.

Our passion for technology comes from years' of experience in housing, technology, and service design. Aware that agency fees in England were unregulated and often a little murky, we were conscious of the lack of trust in the industry and in the way some estate agents trade. Therefore, our aim was simple. To shake up the market.

As a data-driven company, we have utilised our online technology to develop an ethical system that is disruptive and service driven, where landlords can earn more by charging less.

How do we do it?

Using publicly available data from the Land Registry, Local Authority's data on housing benefit and rent levels in London, alongside Bank of England economic data, we have been able to calculate and set an algorithm to find the best rental price and start automating the RentSquare experience.

It enables us to introduce a service that isn't focussed on pricing models for huge profit like many traditional estate agents. Instead, we offer a more reasonable flat fee. Providing a unique solution to everyday renters and ordinary homeowners who want to strike a fair deal.

Our online rental calculator is continually developing an algorithm that tells anyone in London who have entered details about their property what a better, and fairer rent price looks like. It gives us a better indication of the type and value of a property based on the affordability of the housing market, what tenants can afford and what landlords need to charge realistically to be successful and profitable.

Currently, a letting agent will ask for around 10% of the annual rental for finding a tenant, increasing to 15% or more if they are managing the property. They may also charge both the tenant and landlord around £200 to cover reference checks plus a further £200 to landlords if the agreement needs to be amended or renewed.

RentSquare charges a flat fee of £180 or £340 if we arrange viewings. We connect tenants and landlords and close the tenancy agreement at those prices. Tenants simply pay £45 for background checks.

Furthermore, because we're not focussed on earning a percentage of commission from a top end rental price point, we can save landlords money in the long term. Landlords and tenants have more in common than one thinks at first - they both want to have confidence that the relationship they are entering is going to be a good one.

There are often extended void periods when a rental property sits empty because it's priced too high, usually until the monthly rental rate is reduced as agreed by the landlord and estate agent. Our data shows we have reduced the typical 21 days of voids generated by the traditional letting agents on average, to 10 days. We suggest to landlords a rent based on more realistic data via our rental calculator; that means the property is rented out in less time.

Although that rate may be less per month than traditional landlords or letting agents set price, based on RentSquare's property case studies, our way of working earns landlords on average £1440.57 more per year and tenants save an average of £2273.20 compared to a traditional letting agent.

Social Impact

We also believe that we are in a unique position to improve the social impact of the industry by using more flexible ways of working.

For example, using our data to match the right tenants to the right property with a matchmaking service. It doesn't make sense to place a family with young children into a property where the landlord will be selling in 12-months' time. Matching the right tenant to the right landlord is always at the forefront of our mind. Equally, offering a more flexible approach to credit checking with overseas tenants in the tenant's country of origin is something traditional estate agents simply won't do or charge an inflated fee for.

The power of information through technology has made this possible. Transparency, and using our online calculator for good, ensures renters and landlords are at the heart of the RentSquare process. In the end, we are about connecting people to people - not properties.

The result? Londoners, have access to a fairer option, within a rental system that craves stability and fairness.

Our mission is to make rent simple, fair and square!
We can help you with tenant-find, on demand property management or contract renewal services that don't cost an arm and a leg.

You can also find the rent sweet spot for your property at www.rentsquare.io

HuffPost UK Tech is running a two-week focus on our Tech For Good campaign, which aims to highlight the technology that is driving social change and making a positive, long-lasting difference to our world. If you'd like to blog on our platform around this topic, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com with a summary of who you are and what you'd like to blog about.

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