Rentlord wants to give landlords and tenants happier lives with a single web page

Martin Bryant, May 13, 2016 3 min read

This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.

While a lot of our ‘life admin’ can now be handled online, that’s not always the case with renting a property. Many landlords have remained steadfastly old-school. Rentlord wants to change that with a new platform that acts as one web page to handle all your interactions with your landlord.

In Manchester’s now burgeoning tech scene full of fresh-faced young startups, Rentlord is one of the oldest on the block despite not being that well known. It saw big-name investment, appeared onstage at one of tech’s biggest conferences and all before anyone outside the city was really aware of Manchester as a startup city.

Conceived in 2009 and launched in 2011, Rentlord gained early support from Seedcamp and 500 Startups, and CEO Colin Tan was chosen to appear onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.

Rentlord CEO Colin Tan

Rentlord CEO Colin Tan

While startups that take this high-profile route typically either raise further investment to keep growing, or crash and burn, Rentlord took a path less travelled. Tan realised that the company could keep going without raising any more money. It was a self-sustaining, UK-focused business that connected landlords and tenants online, and handled credit checks, deposits and initial rent payments.

Other similar products appeared around the same time, but no single one cornered the market. Rentlord was doing fine, Tan says, but the company’s dream was to expand into a platform that democratised the rental market.

Rentlord 2.0

So now Rentlord is poised to launch version two of its product. Currently in beta testing with existing users, the new platform offers a single location where landlords and tenants can carry out all their interactions.

From the rental agreement and deposit onwards, all rent payments are processed through Rentlord, and a message board allows landlord and tenant to contact each other, with all communication logged centrally.

Worried about your landlord not seeing that important post about a leaky pipe? All messages are sent out by SMS and email, so you don’t have to be logged in to receive them. Rentlord staff will get involved and offer assistance if there is a problem with the landlord-tenant relationship.

Landlords and tenants are rated based on their behaviour, which means that if you pay your rent on time each month, your next landlord will know about it without having to wait for a written reference. And you’ll hopefully have confidence in that next landlord because she’s been rated by previous tenants.

Rentlord product 2

Morally good

A former philosophy academic, Tan sees this new approach as “morally good,” helping both sides of the market live better lives. This is an important point, as Tan splits his time between heading up Rentlord and acting as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at DotForge, an accelerator programme in Yorkshire and Manchester with a strong ‘social impact’ ethos.

Morals are all well and good, but they don’t necessarily make good business, and Rentlord has well-funded rivals. The likes of EasyProperty could feasibly expand into full-on landlord-tenant relationship management, and US outfits like Cozy could feasibly expand into the UK market. For now though, Tan sees Rentlord’s ‘the whole relationship in one page’ approach as a unique selling point.

The new Rentlord is scheduled to officially launch this summer, priced at a flat £19.99 per property per month for landlords. It’s free for tenants to use.

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