HouseME launches as SA’s first online bidding and tenant screening app for home rentals
HouseME, a new mobile application and web portal, is the first to launch in South Africa with an online auction mechanism where landlords receive bids on their rental properties from prospective tenants eager to secure their ideal accommodation. Through its growing database of registered users, HouseME also offers tenant-rating scores to give landlords peace of mind, while promoting ideal tenant conduct through a novel incentive scheme.
Developed by Cape Town-based entrepreneurs, Ben Shaw and Kyle Bradley, HouseME has been launched in the Cape Town and Stellenbosch areas.
Shaw, HouseME’s CEO, believes the home rental market in SA has remained relatively unevolved over the past 20 years, despite the advent of technology. “The market is locked by a process where landlords advertise their properties for a set rental, and often accept the first tenants to put a deposit down. It’s clear that both landlords and tenants will benefit from a transparent bidding mechanism, particularly where a property is in high demand, and a fair price unknown,” he says.
In desirable areas like the Cape Town Southern Suburbs and Stellenbosch where large student communities are looking for private accommodation, there are additional issues that HouseME aims to remedy. “Tenants come from all over the country and don’t always have the means to view properties before they arrive, which is why we verify every property listed and provide up-to-date photographs on the app,” says Shaw.
Landlords often experience anxiety about the quality of tenants they attract, and the condition their property will remain in.
Bradley, HouseME’s Chief Technology Officer, says it was imperative to address these anxieties by developing a tenant screening component, where over a period of time, those who are registered on HouseME can establish their reputation as solid, trustworthy and responsible tenants. “We’re democratising the home rental market by incentivising and rewarding good conduct, just as one would rate a trip with an Uber driver. We’re hoping this will also reduce discrimination that takes place on the basis of gender, race, or culture.”
Tenants with a positive HouseME rating can find themselves in a very favourable position when seeking accommodation through the system. “For landlords this also creates an opportunity to reduce their expenditure on high letting agency fees, because the suitability of tenants has already been verified and they can be confident that maintenance issues will be reported timeously,” says Bradley. “The HouseME dashboard for landlords provides access to expert maintenance services through one of our partners, Fix Forward, at a discounted rate.”
Shaw and Bradley are confident in the scalability of the platform, which is built on exportable technology with ambitions for it to be adopted across Africa, and possibly globally. “Right now though, we’re very active in incentivising property owners and tenants to register and download the app to get the ball rolling. We’re confident that once people register and use the product, they’ll be sold,” says Shaw. One of HouseME’s core benefits includes guaranteed rental for landlords, which further underlines HouseME’s commitment to de-risking rentals.
The HouseME mobile app for tenants can be downloaded from the Apple Store, or via Google Play. Landlords can register and upload their properties in only six steps via www.houseme.co.za. Facebook.com/HouseME.za | Twitter: @HouseME_za
Landlord incentives as per HouseME mailer (separate to this media release):
For every landlord you refer who registers a property with HouseME, you’ll receive a waiver on your property’s fees for three months. Simply copy firstname.lastname@example.org into your referral email for us to keep track and ensure your reward.
Tenant incentives as per HouseME mailer (separate to this media release):
For every landlord you refer who registers with HouseME, you’ll receive R500. Cash.
And for every ten friends you refer that rent properties using the app, HouseME will cover 25% of your rent for your next 12-month contract with HouseME. Twenty friends gets you 50% off, and 30 friends keeps you rent-free for a year. Simply copy email@example.com into your referral email for us to keep track and ensure your reward.