Startup to provide protection for landlords

Imagine this: You get a call informing you one of your tenants has moved out in the middle of the night, leaving the place looking like Kansas after a tornado.

Between the boxes of food scattered everywhere, the holes in the walls and the mess left behind, Margaret Cichosz, who has heard similar tales, decided to take action. The result is Apartmint, a Facebook-like website connecting landlords and prospective tenants.

“The Canadian rental market is hot, but the rental process is broken,” Cichosz told CREW.

“Landlords often end up on the hook for thousands in damages caused by irresponsible tenants, and tenants are often the victim of 'bait and switch' strategies, with actual properties not living up to their ads online.”

The company launched in late October in Waterloo and has since expanded to Toronto and Windsor, a sign the service is picking up in Ontario's tepid rental market.

It follows a growing trend of online companies providing services for real estate investors and agents – Planitar and Instavisit, to name a few.

Despite the success of tech-based companies in this space, some have struggled to establish market share in Canada, and instead opt for the U.S. to grow the business before re-entering the market. Some cite limited access to MLS listings as a key reason for this trend.

However, Cichosz has been able to offset these concerns by building relationships with real estate agents, companies and municipalities, like the Stratford-Perth region where a new regional website is about to launch, featuring the service as a one-stop shop for people looking to rent and connect with landlords.

Apartmint allows tenants to search for an apartment, connect with a landlord and pay their rent online. It also features online profiles for tenants and landlords, allowing their rental applications to be rated and reviewed by the online community.

The tech startup also facilitates a network that allows tenants to fill out a custom application form that gives renters the ability to circulate their form among numerous landlords.

The service has garnered strong support from the tech community and with angel investors stepping up to support the service, as well as the government, things are looking up for the growing startup.

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