People finding rodents and insects in their apartments – especially their first apartment in NYC- is not uncommon or shocking. But what is shocking is that a service like Rentlogic does not already exist. This startup was built on a simple idea: grade apartment buildings the same way that the city grades restaurants based on health and safety standards. Rentlogic’s grades are based purely on factual data, providing renters with insight on a prospective building’s condition before signing the apartment lease.
AlleyWatch caught up with CEO and founder Yale Fox to discuss how this data-driven grading system for residential buildings will completely change the NYC apartment hunting process.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Rentlogic’s $2.4M Seed funding round closed earlier this year and included investors such as Urban.Us, Kairos, and Edgar Bronfman, Jr.
Rentlogic grades apartment buildings as A, B, C or F – similar to how the City grades restaurants based on health and safety standards. Our grades help renters understand more about a building before they sign a lease. At the same time, we give property owners a way to highlight their rentals as better than their competitors’, which leads to faster lease-up rates and higher rents.
Our grades are generated using a combination of physical inspections that we conduct using licensed by state, third-party building inspectors, and city-issued data for building violations. Our algorithms were developed by data scientists and approved by multiple stakeholders, including property owners, policymakers, and tenant organizations. This helps renters identify great places to live and also highlights and promotes property owners that that are operating great communities.
What inspired you to start Rentlogic?
When I came to New York City in 2013 and quickly realized that the first apartment I moved into had mold, roaches, and rodents – things that definitely weren’t advertised with the unit – I was inspired to create a better way to educate renters in New York City and help them avoid potentially hazardous situations. Likewise, I wanted to assist landlords to be able to present the best possible living experience for residents.
How is Rentlogic different?
Rentlogic is different because we are the only company that relies on objective, fact-based data. It’s not like Yelp or other user-generated review sites, which are subjective and biased. Unlike every other site, we also have a resolution process that includes working with landlords to address issues within their buildings. One of the ways we do this is by offering in-person inspections by a third-party company to ensure they have the most accurate and up-to-date grade.
What market does Rentlogic target and how big is it?
We are targeting the property owners, managers, and residents of New York City’s 1.1M apartment buildings.
What’s your business model?
The information we provide renters through our website is free. For landlords, we offer building certifications, signage, and marketing materials which range from $99 to $1499 which varies by building size, so they can showcase their excellent grades to existing residents and prospective tenants.
Do you have plans to expand beyond NYC?
Yes, we are actively working to bring Rentlogic to additional markets.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Many of our investors said, “How does this not exist already?” We are the first to market and are proponents of fairness. In addition, our business focuses on both economic and social benefits which are intentionally tied together.
We believe transparency helps both renters as well as responsible landlords, and we advocate for both groups without favoring one over the other. We also hold ourselves to a high standard of transparency. Earlier this year, we voluntarily underwent an independent audit of the algorithm we use to grade buildings, to ensure that it is fair to all stakeholders.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We plan to continue innovating — developing new tools that help make the rental market more transparent. We’re about to introduce an API for Rentlogic to make our grades available on third-party sites. Additionally, we just announced the guidelines for the independent building inspections that we conduct, and we hope more landlords will collaborate with us to highlight the work they do to ensure a good quality of life for their tenants.