UK-based Rentify, a property management tool for landlords, recently announced that it has secured a £2 million Series A funding round from Balderton Capital. The startup launched in early 2012 and to date has upwards of 60,000 registered users with over £100 million of rental properties now managed through its services. The company will use the funding to add to its team in London and add several features this year to better serve the needs of landlords and tenants.
The startup’s launch couldn’t have had better timing, since according to UK Census data the country has experienced a continuous decline in home ownership, resulting in 15 per cent of households now renting from a private landlord, and 29 percent of the overall population renting, resulting in what has been dubbed ‘Generation Rent.’ With an increase in landlords who have the option of either outsourcing the management of their properties to what are referred to as ‘letting agents’ or managing it themselves, Rentify looks to make the second option much more feasible.
“It turns out 40 percent of landlords will never use a letting agent, they just don’t like the idea of doing it, and on top of them 30 percent will only sporadically use a letting agent. So it’s a £40 billion market in the UK and only £4 billion of it is being tapped,” said CEO George Spencer in an interview with BetaKit. “We provide a tool that’s like a Zillow or Salesforce for landlords, as well as providing some structure for what they do.”
The platform offers landlords services like credit and reference checks, gas safety certificates, in addition to marketing tools that let landlords create an ad once on its site and have it published to a number of property sites for free. Where it makes money is on a number of value-add services that relate to the management of the property itself, everything from key collection, regulation compliance, and 24/7 support staff to handle any issues that may arise for both tenants or owners.
Spencer said letting agents charge almost double what Rentify does, so it’s no surprise that startups are looking to disrupt the UK property management industry. Other companies like UPad, MakeUrMove, and RentLord, a 500 Startups companies that also has a social network component to it, are also looking to take advantage of current trends. There are also U.S.-based startups like Y-Combinator alum Rentobo, which helps landlords find renters, and RentMetrics, which helps property owners set the right rate for their listing. When asked what helps set Rentify apart in the UK, Spencer said his team’s highly technical background will help it build out a robust feature set.
The company’s focus as of now is to continue to grow its user base and develop features that address the varying needs of landlords, which range from a complete suite of no-hassle rental solutions to being able to optimize income. Spencer also noted that with Balderdon Capital as a strategic investor on board, the startup is watching markets like Germany, or regions with fairly similar concerns and legislative issues with keen interest, however the priority is on fine-tuning the platform for its home country. With more and more residents turning to renting, the obvious parallel trend will be property managers looking to turnkey solutions, something Rentify could be in a good position to exploit with its end-to-end property management platform.