A PropTech startup is looking to continue to ‘expand’ and ‘improve’ its platform as part of round two of the government’s Rent Recognition Challenge, which takes place this week.
RentalStep, launched in the spring of 2017 and currently used by around 1,000 tenants and 200 landlords, allows landlords to find the best tenants who are fully referenced and credit checked. It also provides tenants with a ‘unique TenantPassport’, detailing their rental history and contributing towards improving their credit score when they pay rent on time.
It is taking part in round two of the Rent Recognition Challenge, having been one of six winners of round one. The government initiative - launched in December and with the first winners announced in March (RentalStep, CreditLadder, Bud, Canopy, FirstHomecoach and Movem) - aims to encourage startups to use technology to help share tenants' payment histories with lenders and credit reference agencies.
The Treasury has pledged £2 million-£1.4 million for the winner or winners of round two of the competition. It is being judged by an expert panel, which includes Paul Smee (director of mortgages at UK Finance), Charlotte Crosswell (chief executive at Innovate Finance) and Neil Munroe (chief executive at CRS Insights).
Mike Georgeson, founder and chief executive of RentalStep, said: “We’re really looking forward to round two of the Rent Recognition Challenge and pitching our proposition once more to the Treasury. Ensuring that tenants' rental payment histories are recognised in their credit scores is hugely important and we're proud to be able to contribute towards this much-needed movement.”
He added that, with the country’s housing balance shifting increasingly towards private renting, there was no reason why rental payments - which are frequently more costly than mortgage repayments - shouldn't carry the same weight.
The first £600,000 of government money was split equally between the six winners of round one, while they were also given access to expert legal and PR advice, FinTech tools and meeting space.
The second round money, meanwhile, will go towards supporting the creation of a wider home ownership tool which brings together all the available financial services for tenants onto one online platform.
RentalStep says its team have been working hard to prepare for round two, having used the initial investment to improve its platform, create an enhanced communication centre for users and test an ‘Open Banking integration’ for tenants to enable them to automatically verify their rent and income payments.
“At RentalStep, we're passionate about matching landlords with the perfect tenants for their rental properties while making sure tenants have all the information they need in one place before moving home,” Georgeson added.
“We’re also dedicated to helping landlords save money on the costs associated with letting a property in a market which is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to navigate.”