In the previous blog, we looked at five proptechs with payment tools that are shaking up the property rental market. Here, we look at four more with solutions that have benefits for landlords, letting agencies and tenants.
The RentID Digital Assistant app comes with a range of services that allows tenants and landlords to communicate, store useful information in the property, such as where utility meters are located, and, of course, manage rental payments.
RentID’s payments are paid into a digital wallet by a third party, LettsPay, a payments engine handling over £1 billion per year in transactions for operators within the insurance, public housing and utilities sectors.
Charges are made using a subscription model, so no fees are charged for individual transactions. The self-management property plan, RentID Manage Plus, costs £12.50 (plus VAT) monthly per unit. RentID Tenant Find will secure advertising for tenants on RightMove, Zoopla and Prime Location at £114 (incl. VAT) per unit, while a comprehensive plan covering advertising, photography and virtual tours, RentID Tenant Find Ultimate, costs £660 (incl. VAT) per unit.
RentID does not have any significant number of customer reviews available to browse online.
Launched in 2016, Flatfair raised US$11 million in a funding round led by Index Ventures in 2019 to strengthen its product through the recruitment of data scientists, product engineers and business specialist developments. In the same year, the company signed a deal to allow the world’s biggest commercial property services company, CBRE, offer Flatfair’s deposit replacement solution to renters.
The product centres around a no-deposit model for tenants, which comes with additional benefits for landlords too. Flatfair’s “insurance-backed” payment technology replaces traditional deposits with a small check-in fee. For landlords and agencies Flatfair promises fast recovery of any costs (within ten working days) for amounts up to the equivalent of 10 weeks of rental payments.
Tenants authorise their bank account via a debit card with Flatfair and when it’s time to move out, any end-of-tenancy charges are invoiced to the tenant. In the event of a dispute, landlords and tenants upload evidence to the platform. If agreement isn’t reached, the case is then escalated to an independent adjudicator via mydeposits, a government backed deposit scheme.
Like Canopy, tenants registered with Flatfair are given a “trust score” that increases for good tenants as long as rent is paid on time. This can make the tenant’s next move easier.
Flatfair is well regarded by users with a 4.5 score on TrustPilot. Of 579 reviews, 78% rated the company as excellent, while 7% rated Flatfair as bad.
While there are no fees for landlords and agencies, tenants are charged one week’s rent (plus VAT) for membership, known as Flatbond. This one-off payment is subject to a minimum charge of £120 (plus VAT) and covers the duration of the tenancy.
OpenRent has 3.5 million landlords and tenants subscribed to its service. There are no charges for tenants and just a one-off fee starting at £29 (plus VAT) and rising to £49 (plus VAT) for landlords.
That fee includes advertising on the likes of Zoopla and Rightmove and tenancy creation. OpenRent handles the vetting of tenants and the contract, collecting the deposit and the first month’s rent, and making sure the contract is compliant with all legal requirements.
As for tenants, their deposit is protected. OpenRent also provides tenants with a unique bank account for rent payment. If rent is late, OpenRent chases it up on the landlord’s behalf.
Price is obviously the big attraction here, but landlords still have to be hands-on when it comes to managing the tenancy and handling maintenance issues.
OpenRent comes with a strong 4.2 rating on Trustpilot. Of 2,216 reviews, 86% of users rate the service as excellent, while 8% rated it as bad.
When founding Howsy (formerly NoAgent), Callum Brannan’s aim was to simplify renting in a property management package that would significantly undercut high street agents. However, by 2021, more than six years after its launch, the company is yet to become profitable and is seeking a further £800,000 in a final fund raise, having raised £700,000 in 2018 and £2.35 million in 2020 via investment platform, Seedrs, with the goal of breaking even in 2023.
Howsy pioneered zero fees for tenants back in 2016, launching a zero deposit option and guaranteed rent for landlords in 2019. The products have a strong emphasis on compliance and are updated regularly to take account of new legislation.
The company has expanded quickly, acquiring online lettings agencies, Urban in 2019 and Upad in 2020, and winning Best Online Agency at the Landlord Investment Show in 2019. In 2021, Howdy had 7,000 properties under management and processed millions of pounds in rental payments with offices in London, Coventry and Manila in the Philippines. Gross margin grew by 30% and revenue by 134% during the pandemic.
For landlords, there are two simple plans: “Fully Managed” and “Protect”. Under both, Howsy sources tenants and takes care of property management, including rent collection and maintenance. The “Protect” offering also comes with guaranteed rent and appliance cover, including emergency boiler repairs.
On Trustpilot, Howsy has 4.5 stars. Of 1,833 reviews, 80% of users rating the company as excellent.12% rated the service as bad.
Subscription fees start from £59 (plus VAT) per month (outside London). A “Rent It Faster” option comes with a price tag of £595, and includes tenant screenings, viewings, photography and a premium listing on RightMove. Like others, Howsy offers a tenant guarantee - should things end up in court, the firm will cover all costs.
Proptech is making rental payments easier
When you consider one of the most time consuming and painful jobs for landlords and letting agents is chasing rent payments, there’s a lot to be said for using proptech businesses that take care of all the processes associated with payments. To begin with, according to accounting software firm, Xero, customers pay up to 35% faster when using an online payment gateway.
Then there are the added features in the solutions these proptechs have created, such as the ability to speed up tenant screening or take deposits completely out of the process. The latter alone is a big incentive for tenants and inevitably leads to a quicker turnaround on property rentals.
Furthermore, the digital audit trail provided by proptech solutions makes the whole rental system much more efficient to monitor and to gain insights for decision-making, improving outcomes for landlords and businesses involved in lettings right across the board. Yet, there's more to come from these proptech firms as they build out and improve their next generation of products for the rentals market.
If you haven't checked out part one of our list of UK rental proptechs to watch in 2022, click here.
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