These days there is an app for everything. Given the ubiquity of smartphones and the comprehensive way in which they have overtaken desktops and laptops as the preferred means of accessing the internet, this is not an exaggeration.
This applies just as much to the property rental market as it does to any other aspect of modern life and it is fair to say that the sector is now awash with them. But with so much choice; what are the 5 best apps to help tenants and landlords rent smarter?
The apps market is hugely competitive, and some of the promising entrants of recent years have come and gone, unable to establish themselves securely enough to survive.
Many of the major property websites have followed the route of most online businesses and developed apps as an alternative point of access but equally, a large number of apps have been created as stand-alone tools designed exclusively for use on mobile devices.
We’ve had a good look at what’s on offer at the moment from the perspective of potential tenants and we’ve come up with five apps that have something special to recommend them to renters.
In the interests of completeness (and because we are so proud of our app!) we should mention Inventory Base’s own contributions to the this market, which offer significant benefits to both landlords and renters by providing smart, transparent inventory property management solutions with property management software.
Our innovative property inspection app provides certainty, security and clarity to both parties concerning fixtures, fittings and furnishings. But enough about us.
Pad lays claim to being the first fully mobile rental app. It is designed as a gateway to connect tenants and landlords on an equal footing. Landlords create an account, list their properties, find tenants who match and contact them directly to see if they are interested in what the landlord has to offer.
Tenants register in the same way, list their preferences, look for properties that match then contact the landlords of those properties. Clearly, it is really only useful in getting the landlord-tenant relationship started but it is very quick and efficient, with a huge number of properties and tenants available to view at the tap of a screen.
This award-winning website performs a similar function to Pad, in that it provides a collaborative platform that can make the process of beginning a tenancy simpler and cheaper for landlords and tenants than more conventional methods.
Where it differs is in its capacity to let tenants build a Tenant Passport displaying their rental history and giving them a credit score which can be improved with every punctual payment of rent.
It also allows tenants to rate landlords which can be very helpful to other renters in deciding where to look. Technically RentalStep isn’t an app but as it is fully optimised for mobile, there’s no substantive difference.
This is another app that seeks to make it easier for landlords to find the right tenant and tenants to find the right property, all conducted via the internet. It’s simple for landlords to create listings and get their property online. Once contact is made negotiations can be conducted via the app along with credit and reference checks.
Viewings can also be arranged through the app and either conducted virtually or in person if circumstances allow. Rentd can also be used for inventory inspections.
Like other apps with similar objectives, it isn’t kind to letting agents, who find themselves eliminated from this very direct process, but if the result is to shift their focus from lettings to management, the overall impact on the business of agencies need not be seriously affected.
There is a growing number of apps – of which Movebubble is a particularly efficient example – that are offering ways to circumvent established practices by using the almost limitless capacity of digital technology to replace analogue conventions.
Movebubble dispenses with in-person viewings and instead offers thousands of pre-recorded virtual tours which they call ‘video walk-throughs’.
As a prospective tenant, you can monitor the popularity of properties using a watchlist, take advantage of tailored recommendations, give feedback on landlords you’ve dealt with and explore not just the properties themselves but also the locations in which they are situated.
At present, it only covers London and Manchester, but if Movebubble doesn’t expand to cover other areas there are plenty of other property app developers who are likely to fill the gap.
This is a very familiar name to all of us and it has been around, first as a website then as an app, for many years. It has become something of a property market institution but the fact that it has been able to hold its own in such a competitive digital market is an indicator that it is getting a lot right.
One of its biggest advantages is the sheer size of its database. Along with Rightmove, it has links with all the major estate agents in the UK so when it claims to be able to find you a desirable rental property anywhere in the UK, it is probably being honest.
The amount of information it can give you is slightly limited but that’s a sacrifice you make for such a huge choice of properties. Where it has not yet adapted to the changing habits of landlords and tenants is that it requires you to make contact through agents – unsurprising since it is the agents who supply the data in the first place.
So, although it won’t cut out any intermediaries, it will give you probably more choice than you can reasonably process.
As we’ve already suggested, the market is probably overcrowded and not every app will succeed. But whatever the fate of individual enterprises, it’s impossible to deny that the private rental market is undergoing a transformation more radical than any we have seen in decades.