In this exclusive Bold Interview, Fox describes how his new company, Rentlogic, makes the rental market more transparent and efficient. In a city like New York, bursting at the seams with economic growth, housing is at a premium and tenants are at a big disadvantage. Right now, the system seems to reward landlords who cut corners and disregard tenant concerns.
It’s no secret that New York housing costs are sky high. According to Fox, the average New Yorker spend about 65% of their net income on rent. This is double the national average of about 30% of income.
With rent absorbing such a large share of tenants income, it is even more important that tenants know what type of situation they are getting into before they sign the documents. Rentlogic helps them to avoid the bad landlords and buildings, and puts both parties on a more even footing.
“When you rent,” Fox said in a recent Ted Talk, “you are not in control of your own home, you are dependent on your landlord. And, even though many landlords are great, at the end of the day these are all businesses that are built to maximize their bottom lines. This results in keeping operating costs low and charging as much as you can get away with for your product.”
Exposing the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Housing
That is of course how the market is supposed to work. But in the case of rental housing, the two parties have very asymmetrical knowledge. Things the landlord may know perfectly well, that the roof leaks, or the plumbing is bad, are completely unknown to the tenant. And long leases can leave tenants trapped in unacceptable and even unhealthy situations for a year or more.
The real problem is that when a tenant has two options, option A and option B, one is a good landlord and the other not so good, they have no way of knowing which is which. Both apartments may be freshly painted and look clean on the surface. But, one landlord may have hidden problems and refuse to make repairs, while the other one bends over backwards for the tenant.
This is the type of information Rentlogic wants to bring into view. Fox believes it is important for this information to get out there, so that good landlords who in fact do spend a bit more taking of their properties and tenants can be rewarded for it. Plus, it can help to sort out the bad apples. It gives tenants knowledge and flexibility, with less risk.
The information for Rentlogic comes from government records, which include tenant complaints and inspection reports, among other things. It is all compiled into an easy to use and transparent ratings system. The company intends to earn revenue from licensing their seals and displays to landlords who score high.
Given that a home is a good deal larger and more critical decision than going to dinner, it is about time that we have a ratings system that rewards good landlords and makes the housing search just a little bit easier. Rentlogic is a bold idea whose time has come.