(Photo by cincy Project with Creative Commons license)
If you’ve ever rented property, you know it can be … a lot.
In the process of proving that you’re a worthy potential tenant, your credit gets dinged, your privacy is at risk and, if you’re applying for multiple properties, you have to pay the fees for all of this multiple times.
Of course, tenant screening is a necessity, if an inconvenient one, for landlords who want to reduce the risk of leasing to tenants who stop paying rent, forcing them into the mess of eviction proceedings.
Jane Perillo and Laura Stayton founded Delaware Realty Management in Newark in the early ’90s, and have each been in the realty business for over 30 years. As technology advanced, they started thinking of ways to make tenant screening — and renting property in general — less painful for both sides.
Two years ago, they partnered with Jane Clark, creative director and owner of Teakettica, a creative studio in Newark, to come up with an easier way for the landlords they worked with to run tenant screenings through their website.
On Dec. 16, Worry Free Tenant went live — not as a local service, but as a national platform for landlords and tenants, wherever they are.
Prospective tenants pay a fee — about what they would pay a single landlord to run a tenant check — and create a report that includes credit check, pay stubs, identification, rental history and background check.
One big advantage of a do-it-yourself tenant report? “Your credit isn’t dinged because you yourself are the one pulling your own credit,” Perillo told Technical.ly.
That report stays private until tenants chooses share it with a prospective landlord via the website.
For landlords, the platform is free. They can upload their property listings to the site for renters to search, so when prospective tenants inquire, the screening process is, ideally, streamlined.
It’s a more digital version of a service Delaware Realty Management has offered for several years, as a result of an increasing number of landlord clients coming to them looking for help with tenants in “extreme default” — they couldn’t pay their rent — which is not the focus of the company’s services.
“[The tenants] were in extreme default, we would come to find, because [the landlord] did not screen their tenant,” said Perillo. “There was no easy way for them to get the background on their tenant. I’ve done property management for 30 years, and when I google ‘tenant screening’ and go to the websites, it is not easy. It’s not simple. It’s confusing and I could see where a property owner with a tenant standing in front of them with a check to move in would want to skip that step.”
They soon realized that the need went well beyond New Castle County, and the potential for an interactive, connective platform was bigger than originally planned.
“We’re starting in our backyard, but this is national,” said Teakettica’s Clark, who did all of the branding and front end development work, while Perillo and Stayton self-funded the project. Newark’s AgoraNet did the technical backend development.
Right now, the site has just a couple of property listings live, but they’re working to add new local properties going into 2020.
“We’ve done testing and social media campaigns,” said Clark. “It’s exciting to take something from start to finish.”-30-
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