Flatfair’s ‘deposit-free’ renting platform raises $11m

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Flatfair has raised £11m to scale its platform, which aims to ‘make renting more affordable for tenants’.

Today (15 August), London-based start-up Flatfair announced that it has just closed an $11m funding round, led by Index Ventures.

There was also participation from Revolt Ventures, Adevinta, Greg Marsh (founder of Onefinestay), Jeremy Helsby (former CEO of Savills) and Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of TransferWise).

Flatfair said that the funding will be used for scaling its platform “far and wide to bring deposit-free renting to everyone”.

“With our recent investment we’re aiming for infinity and beyond as our goalpost rises higher and higher,” the company said in a blogpost.

Founded in 2016, Flatfair was set up to tackle the issue of rent deposits, taking inspiration from alternative models in Germany and Switzerland. The start-up’s three co-founders are Bartosz Alksnin (CTO), Franz Doerr (CEO), and Daniel Jeczmien (COO).

On its website, the company says: “Our founding idea was simple, and it remains the same to this day. We combine the most effective government deposit schemes with smart technology to make renting more affordable for tenants, more profitable for landlords and more efficient for agents and institutions.”

Following the investment, Martin Mignot of Index Ventures said: “Around $300bn is tied up in deposits globally, so freeing up just a fraction of this money would make a huge difference to millions of renters who deserve a fairer and more transparent service.

“But Flatfair has the potential to become the ‘PayPal of property rental’ by offering a range of solutions beyond referencing and deposit management.

“There is huge potential for technology to help real estate companies manage operations and revenue in a more streamlined fashion, while offering tenants a better, fairer service.”

How Flatfair works

Flatfair aims to let landlords offer “deposit-free renting”. The company claims it has saved tenants over £4m in deposit fees to date.

As explained to TechCrunch, in the event of a dispute over end-of-tenancy charges, the start-up attempts to resolve the dispute between the landlords and tenants by allowing each party to upload evidence to Flatfair’s platform.

If the two parties can’t reach an agreement, Flatfair refers the case to an independent adjudicator supported by both the company and UK government-backed deposit scheme MyDeposits.

Doerr said: “If the adjudicator says that the tenant owes money, we invoice the tenant who then has five days to pay. If the tenant doesn’t pay, we charge their bank account. What’s key here is having evidence. People are generally happy to pay if the costs are fair and where clear evidence exists, there’s less to argue about.”

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com