A startup called Zently hopes to improve the process of renting a home or apartment by making it easier for renters to split bills, pay for their rent and contact their landlords when something goes wrong. And for landlords, it wants to simplify getting paid while also facilitating the process of fixing problems that renters come across.
On the front end, Zently provides a mobile app that allows renters to automatically get their rent paid and split costs. Targeting the large number of renters under 30 who have roommates, Zently connects with a renter’s bank account to scan for shared bills like utilities and also settle up on bills once the month comes to a close.
The app is also designed to reduce the time it takes for maintenance issues to be taken care of. Today most renters call or email their landlord whenever something needs to be fixed, which might not provide all the information required to diagnose a problem or find the right service provider to take care of it.
Using a chat-based interface, Zently renters can choose the category of issue that needs to be solved, take a photo of the problem and submit it to their landlord. Once it’s received, the app makes it easier for landlords to find the right service provider to solve the issue with a 24/7 concierge to find plumbers, electricians or other local handymen that can be assigned the job.
Another side benefit for landlords adopting Zently, beyond getting paid faster or having maintenance issues taken care of, is the ability to fill vacant apartments more quickly. The concierge also helps landlords create rental listings that will appeal to renters and get those vacancies filled. It also schedules showings and moves documents online to simplify the process of signing a rental agreement.
But while most apps or services are built with the landlord or property manager in mind, Kamat said he wanted to make sure Zently was focused primarily on the renter. The app is free for renters to use, and he’s hoping to use them as a hook to get landlords signed up for the paid concierge service.
The belief is that once landlords see how much time (and money) Zently can save them, they will ask other renters to join the platform. And since most renters change homes every one or two years, they will set up Zently when they move on to their next apartment.
Since providing quality service providers is such a large part of the service, Zently is focusing on the San Francisco Bay Area to start, where it has already seeded its list of preferred providers. But the company believes it should be able to expand to other markets once it works out the kinks here.