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Kelowna's rental revolution

There are more than four million rental households in Canada, which equates to nearly 30 per cent of all the homes.

Nearly 42 per cent of North Americans are renting, and that number is growing.

As times change, so is our workforce. Millennials are choosing to rent, and people are waiting longer before purchasing a home (or perhaps never purchasing one at all).

We are seeing a technological revolution changing the way our society functions. Innovative companies such as UBER and Airbnb have revolutionized industries, changing people’s habits. Years ago, a person would never jump in a stranger’s car, now millions  do it every day with UBER.

People using Airbnb are also opening their homes to strangers, something that was unheard of a decade ago.

However, renting is still done with an archaic method (using classifieds and physically signed contracts), despite the abundance of technology and information that is available.

Kelowna has an active and growing rental market consisting of students, vacationers, and young professionals.  Near-zero vacancies and low inventory have contributed to a developing rental crisis.

Mayor Colin Basran points out that, while the city is doing a lot to increase rental opportunities, governments and municipalities can’t address the issues on their own.

Now, a Kelowna company is trying to revolutionize renting with an innovation called Happipad.

Happipad is an online platform that allows long-term property renting to be completed in real time, with the same conveniences and accountability of familiar services such as Airbnb and UBER. Founded by a pair of engineers from UBC Okanagan, the service went live in Canada in July.

The Happipad concept was developed to increase the efficiency of renting.

Cailan Libby, Happipad’s CEO and co-founder, believes his service can create a new level of trust within the rental marketplace, by making it a social experience.

“The problem with renting today is that there is no track record. A landlord or tenant is able to take advantage of someone, run a rental scam or damage a property, and that bad behavior doesn’t follow them to their next landlord or tenant,” he explains.

But just as shady Amazon sellers or sub-par UBER drivers are punished for their bad ratings, slum landlords and deadbeat tenants will feel the effect of their bad Happipad scores.

Happipad rewards people for having good behaviour. Today if a tenant or landlord causes damages, everyone pays for it. This creates stereotypes, and changing rent prices to compensate for damages.

Libby hopes that Happipad will help ease the rental market by allowing landlords to find trusted tenants for properties that are typically not available for rent.

“Lots of people don’t rent their properties because they don’t trust potential tenants, we want to change that,” Libby says.

Happipad gives renters the ability to browse potential new homes on its rental map, and submit applications through the online platform. Meanwhile, landlords can both screen potential tenants and get the rental agreement signed and sealed directly through the service.

Once the tenancy is over, both parties can review one another, a feature that adds a whole new level of accountability to a process that is often plagued by guesswork.

The website’s live rental inventory means that, as soon as a contract is signed for a property, it gets removed from the service. Tenants can also see the number, and average amount, of offers on every single property.

“I am supportive of anything that will help our residents find homes and make it easier for responsible tenants to connect with well-intentioned landlords. Happipad is helping do exactly that,” Basran says.

“Happipad has the potential to make renting way easier, and that can only be a good thing for everyone involved. Renting is an important part of our society, if people have quality, happy tenancies, everyone wins,” Libby says.

For more information, check out Happipad online.

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