In the Fall of 2011, Ryan Coon needed to find a new place to live. His lease was expiring soon and he knew what he wanted — to rent a home or condo unit from a do-it-yourself landlord. His previous experiences working with large rental buildings and property management companies had been unpleasant.
Like most renters, Coon went to Craigslist to find his future landlord. The amount of time wasted during the leasing process amazed Coon. Because the landlord was not in the same state, he was forced to fax forms back and forth. The process also took several extra days because the landlord didn’t know where to do a credit check or what lease to use.
Once Coon moved in, the lack of modern technology continued as he was forced to write out a rent check and mail it to the landlord every month. Coon soon thought, “Why hasn’t technology improved this process?”
Around this same time, Laurence Jankelow was looking to rent out the condo he purchased during the mid 2000s. After researching the process, Jankelow became astonished by the complex rules and ordinances that govern rental properties. He was shocked to find that no one had designed and built a one-stop set of tools that would guide first-time and do-it-yourself landlords through the entire process.
This is how the idea for Rentalutions was born. In the months that followed, Jankelow and Coon spoke with hundreds of property owners who shared the same experiences. Those early users helped shape development of the platform.
Rentalutions helps do-it-yourself landlords easily manage their residential rental properties throughout the entire process. The company gives landlords access to credit and background reports, allowing them to collect rent online and helping them create and sign leases electronically.
Landlords pay a $25 monthly subscription fee to access the platform (up to 5 rental units). There is no cost to tenants for access to the platform, where they can make rent payments and submit maintenance requests.
On January 26, 2016 in New York City and February 3, 2016 in San Francisco, Rentulations was part of MetaProp NYC’s Demo Day. The event celebrated the culmination of the 22-week MetaProp NYC accelerator program and gave graduating startups a chance to showcase their fast growing real estate technologies.
Just before the New York Demo Day, Coon shared his company’s plans and their tech accelerator experience with Propmodo.
Propmodo: How many landlords are using your platform and how many units does a typical client manage? Ryan Coon: There are more than 16,000 do-it-yourself landlords using our platform today. These landlords are in all 50 states and use Rentalutions to manage an average of 2 rental units including single family homes, small multifamily buildings and condo units.
Propmodo: What measures have you taken to ensure data security for your landlords and your tenants? Ryan Coon: Data security and privacy are extremely important to us because of how much sensitive information our users trust us with. We encrypt all personally identifiable information and employ bank-level security measures to ensure complete security.
One of the major benefits of applying for properties through Rentalutions is that they maintain complete control over who has access to their personal information. At any time, tenants can choose who to share the information with, and can revoke access at any time. This sure beats the traditional method of applying for rental properties – writing personal info on a piece of paper and handing it over to a complete stranger.
This sure beats the traditional method of applying for rental properties – writing personal info on a piece of paper and handing it over to a complete stranger.
Propmodo: How do you help landlords comply with federal, state or municipal ordinances related the to the landlord/tenant relationship? Ryan Coon: Complying with all of the federal, state and local ordinances is a lot of work. To start, we provide landlords with lease templates that comply with the ordinances of each state. In certain cities, we have city-specific lease templates that landlords can customize and use. Chicago, for example, is where we’re based and has the most strict landlord-tenant ordinances in the country. We have a Chicago-specific lease that has been tested (and found valid) in a Chicago eviction court.
Propmodo: What was the single most valuable “take-away” from your MetaProp NYC accelerator experience? Ryan Coon: The most valuable take-away for us has been the importance of crafting and effectively telling our story. This is something that Brandon Weber of Hightower, one of the MetaProp mentors, and I spoke about a lot a few months ago. Aaron Block has helped me develop a concise story about the problem that we’re solving.
Propmodo: What advice would you give to start-ups considering participation in an accelerator program? Ryan Coon: Like most things in life, you’ll get out of an accelerator program what you put into it. Participating in an accelerator gives companies a unique opportunity to reach out to others for advice and guidance. If you don’t do the work of identifying who you want to meet (and explaining why), you’ll waste this opportunity.
Propmodo: What’s next for Rentalutions? Ryan Coon: We’re in the middle of redesigning the user interface of our platform to ensure it works flawlessly on mobile devices. We’re also using this redesign as an opportunity to incorporate a lot of the user feedback and suggestions that we’ve received over the past year.