Since the emergence of the property technology (proptech) sector in the late 1990s, the UK has been at the forefront of the industry and the market there has become one of the most mature in the world. With the renting population growing year-on-year and home ownership set to fall by 7% by 2025, the rental sector has become a key focus for proptech firms. Already, more than half of the 771 proptech firms in the UK market are focussed on the residential market. And, according to a Property Week proptech survey, more than 48% of property businesses began trialling their disruptive technology, including payments solutions, as a result of the pandemic.
Here, in this first blog of a two-part series, we look at some of the UK proptech companies making waves with payment solutions that are solving problems for companies and individuals in the property rental sector.
Around since 2004, PayProp has earned a prominent place on our list, having become one of the biggest processors of rental payments in UK property management. There are currently more than 500,000 tenants on the platform.
Part of the Humanstate Group, a multinational private technology services group, the company claims that its automated payment and reconciliation system is both easier to use and more powerful than the solutions offered by banks or software vendors in the sector.
But it’s payment versatility that’s the unique selling point (USP) the company says. Based on the rules set by users, PayProp is able to send payments to various parties, such as landlords, contractors and other recipients. This is automated on the day the tenant pays rent. Should the tenant be late with payment, an automated reminder is sent to the landlord - and the tenant.
PayProp claims it simplifies reporting too with a detailed dashboard displaying properties under management, money flow and highlights any high risk tenants by analysing credit metrics.
At the time of writing PayProp has a five star rating on google from 108 reviews. In April of 2021, PayProp was named as an approved supplier by RE/MAX, making its platform available to 130,000 RE/MAX real estate professionals worldwide, potentially opening up new markets in the US, Canada and South Africa.
PayProp charges a monthly fee based on the size of the portfolio.
Launched in 2014, Goodlord is no newcomer to the property payments scene but its award-winning cloud-based platform is used by hundreds of agencies across the UK. Extra functionality means that, as well as managing payments and contracts, Goodlord aims to help landlords and agencies comply with complex rental regulations.
When new legislation concerning rentals was introduced after the banning of tenant fees in 2019, rules could vary depending on the region in which the tenancy was based. This meant that tenants in a certain jurisdiction who signed a contract before the removal of tenant fees could be eligible for a refund. Goodlord responded by updating its systems so landlords and letting agencies remained compliant. The platform then alerted agents if a refund was due.
At the time of writing, Goodlord has a 4.1 stars from 1,389 reviews on Trustpilot with 84% of excellent and 11% bad.
Goodlord does not publish a pricing plan on its website.
Born in 2019, the Founders Factory studio, a venture capital base for start-ups in West London, Hammock is a good example of where the worlds of fintech and proptech collide. While not strictly a payments proptech firm, its software plugs into landlord accounts via Open Banking, monitoring rent collection, tracking payments and expenses before delivering analytical reports on the lettings.
Hammock’s platform is handling payments for landlords, helping them identify problems early on, so remedial action can be taken, or, offering insights on where further efficiencies can be achieved.
In 2020, the firm raised €1.1 million from investors, including Aviva, Founders Factory, Fuel Ventures, Ascension Ventures and Force Over Mass Capital, to develop its platform further and offer extra clarity to landlords regarding the financial health of their portfolios.
By August, 2021, Hammock had brought 1,700 managed properties onto its platform, tracking over £7 million in rent in the previous 12 months and had raised £1 million in seed funding to launch a current account allowing the company to offer financial services for rental property owners.
Pricing starts from £0.99 per month (plus VAT) for rent collection, bookkeeping and notifications for one property. The Advanced plan is £4.99 (plus VAT) for up to three properties and includes a Hammock Current Account and expense card, along with some additional services. Hammock’s Pro plan services up to ten properties. Those with a property portfolio greater than can contact the company for a tailored quote.
A hybrid, end-to-end platform for those looking to rent out a home without the need to go to a high street agent, Rentify automates the paperwork and valuations and it’s then up to the landlord to run credit checks through the platform and issue the tenancy agreement. Rentify’s solution relies on artificial intelligence (AI) technology for credit checks by creating an overview of a tenant’s financial standing through the analysis of bank data.
Rent payments are managed through Rentify’s 24-hour rent processing system. The company promises to handle all maintenance issues and cover rent if tenants are late or miss a payment.
The firm comes with a rating of three stars on Trustpilot. Of 876 reviews, 61% rated the company as excellent, while 11% rated it as bad.
Rentify charges 15% of gross rent for letting and management, but claims to undercut high street agents by covering maintenance costs.
Canopy, based in Sevenoaks, Kent, aims to create a trust-based “rental ecosystem”, connecting pre-approved tenants with large letting agencies and corporate landlords.
Founded in 2017 by Tahir Farooqui, in 2019, the company raised €3.5 million to create RentPassports - digital passports designed to replace rent deposits. The platform, supported by credit score agency Experian, is able to screen renters in just 60 seconds, providing a TrustScore. A high TrustScore means that a tenant can potentially rent without requiring a deposit.
Once approved, the tenant is then able to make payments and access other services, such as finding housemates, via the mobile app. In addition, landlords can avail of rent and legal protection from Canopy. As you’d expect from an app-based solution, Canopy eliminates paperwork from the entire process.
The website claims that digital referencing checks are free for landlords and letting agencies, while there is a £3 charge for employment and landlord references.
Tahir stepped down as chief executive officer (CEO) in July 2021, just after the announcement of a major commercial partnership with OnTheMarket (OTM), the UK’s third largest property portal. He remains on the board and is succeeded by former chief financial officer (CFO), Chris Hutchiness. Canopy expects to close 2021 with 772 agents and 120,000 renters.
Canopy enjoys a four star rating on Trustpilot. Of 365 reviews, 54% rated the company as excellent, while 26% rated the company as bad.
There’s a lot of exciting developments happening in the UK when it comes to rental proptechs, so much so that we couldn’t fit it all into one blog. Catch the second part of the series with overviews on four other rental proptech looking to grow their market share in 2022.