APP A WIN­NER FOR LAND­LORDS, TEN­ANTS

New prod­uct helps land­lords man­age pri­vate prop­er­ties from the palm of their hands while re­ward­ing ten­ants for good be­hav­iour

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

IT’S EV­ERY land­lord’s night­mare: come the first of the month, the ten­ants haven’t paid their dues (or short pay), thereby side-step­ping re­minders and, once you fi­nally reach them, they’re full of cre­ative ex­cuses. So you’re left at their mercy, to do the right thing when they feel like it, be­cause threats of penal­ties and even evic­tion don’t star­tle them. Some will sim­ply squat and bear the em­bar­rass­ment and dis­com­fort. Af­ter all, evic­tions take a while and a free roof is well… on the house.

There are al­ways two sides to a story: for ev­ery ter­ri­ble ten­ant, there’s a loath­some land­lord who shirks his main­te­nance re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, in­vades pri­vacy, takes lib­er­ties, tram­ples on ten­ant rights and then fails to pay back the de­posit. For ten­ants, crunch time usu­ally comes when you need ur­gent work done or you’re about to move out but have a hunch that your de­posit won’t be re­funded… so you with­hold rent for the fi­nal month and brace your­self for the in­evitable fall­out.

And then there’s the agent – the smooth-talker who just wants to clinch the deal and walk away. Much like the agent who told a reader from Sea Point that they could pay on the sec­ond, set up the debit or­der for that date but then pe­nalised them R350 for a day’s late pay­ment; plus, he was promised park­ing for his own pri­vate use, only for the com­plex to threaten him with tow­ing his car away.

Man­ag­ing agents take some pres­sure off the land­lord but, if the ten­ant is not in­cen­tivised to do the right thing, they don’t do much more than send threat­en­ing mails and letters of de­mand.

But land­lord-ten­ant re­la­tion­ships don’t need to be fraught. To help de­cent pri­vate land­lords find de­cent ten­ants (and vice versa), and main­tain happy re­la­tion­ships, a new prop­erty app has been launched on the mar­ket to chal­lenge the tra­di­tional top-down busi­ness ap­proach. It’s called MyRentr, lauded as a way to help pri­vate land­lords man­age their prop­er­ties bet­ter. And for ten­ants to have a bet­ter rental ex­pe­ri­ence.

Be­cause the car­rot al­ways tri­umphs over the stick. It’s a be­havioural in­ter­ven­tion and a psy­cho­log­i­cal prin­ci­ple: pun­ish­ment usu­ally doesn’t work. In­cen­tivis­ing and re­ward­ing in­di­vid­u­als is of­ten more ef­fec­tive at bring­ing about be­hav­iour change. And we know how ef­fec­tive those cash-back in­duce­ments are at keep­ing peo­ple from claim­ing from their in­sur­ers to get their bonuses.

The penny dropped for Ross Fitzcharles, 31-year-old chief ex­ec­u­tive of MyRentr, af­ter his par­ents moved away from Joburg and let their prop­erty. Their ten­ant paid his rent on time and as­sured them he was tak­ing good care of things. Only he wasn’t. It cost them over R30 000 to fix. So they asked Fitzcharles to help man­age the prop­erty.

Fitzcharles, who has an Hon­our’s in risk man­age­ment, worked for Mo­men­tum In­vest­ments be­fore join­ing Deloitte’s strat­egy and in­no­va­tion for bank­ing and in­sur­ance depart­ment. Man­ag­ing rentals was not his forte so he started do­ing re­search. As a strate­gist, he re­alised tech­nol­ogy would be the an­swer to solv­ing the prob­lem. Es­tate agents were too ex­pen­sive and many land­lords be­lieved they could do as good a job, if not bet­ter. Only thing is, they don’t. Which is why he de­vel­oped the MyRentr app to help pri­vate land­lords.

“I wanted to de­velop a prod­uct that could help my folks never find them­selves in such a po­si­tion again. Some­thing that could make rent­ing out their prop­erty eas­ier, while at the same time pro­tect­ing them from fi­nan­cial losses.”

One of the big­gest stick­ing points is the cru­cial prop­erty in­spec­tion. Cur­rently, MyRentr of­fers vir­tual prop­erty inspections (via pic­tures), rental guar­an­tee and ten­ant vet­ting.

Their first fea­ture, the Vir­tual Prop­erty In­spec­tion, al­lows the land­lord to do a vir­tual walk-through of the prop­erty with­out hav­ing to be phys­i­cally present. The in­spec­tion can be tai­lored to tar­get spe­cific con­cerns. The ten­ant takes pic­tures on the app dur­ing the in­spec­tion and it pops up on the land­lord’s phone in real time. The images are time and date-stamped, too, so land­lords can be as­sured they haven’t been ma­nip­u­lated. The ten­ant then sub­mits the pic­tures and the land­lord rates and re­views the in­spec­tion.

Ten­ants could also be re­quired to do mid-way inspections, so the land­lord is com­fort­able that the gar­den, for in­stance, is not be­ing torn up by dogs, or that the car­pets are kept in a clean, hy­gienic con­di­tion.

The pre­sump­tion, though, is that the land­lord is au fait with what a “good” in­spec­tion looks like. They might not be ed­u­cated in the pur­pose of a thor­ough snag list, be un­der the il­lu­sion their prop­erty is in fine shape or that the pic­tures don’t re­flect the ac­tual state of af­fairs. Still, it’s early days and the tech’s be­ing re­fined.

The rental guar­an­tee costs 6.5% of the con­tract (about half that charged by other man­ag­ing agents) which in­volves list­ing your prop­erty, co-or­di­nat­ing view­ings, ten­ant screen­ings, draft­ing lease agree­ments, inspections via the app and giv­ing the rental guar­an­tee. If things get messy, they’ll as­sist the land­lord with the evic­tion process through strate­gic part­ner­ships, as well as pay the le­gal costs.

Then there’s the MyRentr Re­wards, a guaranteed an­nual 20% cash-back re­ward, on top of the ten­ants’ de­posit, should they take care of the prop­erty and pay rent on time.

“We’ve seen im­proved be­hav­iour from ten­ants, who used to pay on or af­ter the first, now sud­denly pay­ing their rent five to seven days be­fore month-end so that they don’t lose out on the bonus,” he says.

“It’s a win-win for both land­lords and ten­ants. Our re­wards link back to our app be­cause all inspections are rated and these rat­ings form part of the ten­ant scor­ing for their cash-back re­wards. The re­wards, then, form part of our MyRentr guar­an­tee that is specif­i­cally de­signed to give land­lords peace of mind.

“Not only do we col­lect and guar­an­tee their rent, but we help them through the rent­ing jour­ney by pro­vid­ing them with the right tools to man­age their prop­er­ties ef­fi­ciently.

“If a ten­ant de­faults, we have the land­lord cov­ered for four months in terms of rental guar­an­tee, we guide the evic­tion process and pay the le­gal fees.”

MyRentr pro­vides land­lords with the nec­es­sary ser­vices to man­age their own prop­er­ties, such as list­ing, ten­ant screen­ing, sign­ing lease agree­ments, etc. They hold de­posits (kept in an au­dited trust ac­count) and re­ceive rentals.

MyRentr is backed by in­dus­try ex­perts: “Our ad­vis­ers are chief ex­ec­u­tives Leon Ver­maak (San­tam In­sur­ance from 1999-2002 and of the Te­lesure Group from 2003-2015), and Justi­nus Adri­aanse (Pri­vate Prop­erty 2000-2012).

“We’re un­der­writ­ten by Bryte In­sur­ance (the old Zurich, which re­branded) and pow­ered by Geneva Risk Man­age­ment So­lu­tions. Our strate­gic le­gal part­ner is SSLR Inc.”

It’s a sec­tor ready for dis­rup­tion. Pri­vate land­lords need all the help they can get and it’s good to know that ten­ants are re­warded for good be­hav­iour. Af­ter all, in an ideal world, sign­ing a lease shouldn’t be the be­gin­ning of a bad busi­ness re­la­tion­ship. Visit www.myrentr.co.za It’s free in the Ap­pS­tore or from the PlayS­tore.

If things get messy, they’ll as­sist with the evic­tion process

PIC­TURE: DAVID PAUL MOR­RIS/BLOOMBERG

VIR­TUAL INSPECTIONS: A new app de­vel­oped lo­cally, MyRentr, aimed at the pri­vate prop­erty mar­ket, hopes to en­sure that sign­ing a lease isn’t the be­gin­ning of a bad busi­ness re­la­tion­ship.

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