• September 5, 2018
The image on the Smart Tenants Facebook page. Photo: supplied.
Tenants will be able to provide public feedback on rental properties once a free website is launched early next year that allows users to post reviews of landlords and their properties.
Smart Tenants is the brainchild of a group of work friends, Kate Sobolewska, Kawai Wong, Peter Hsu and Saphia Turki, who were inspired by their personal experiences renting.
“If I go to a restaurant, or I’m trying to find a car mechanic, or any other service and I want to make sure I’ll get a good service, I’ll usually go online and check reviews,” says Ms Turki.
“Why should it be different for a rental property? We pay good money for a service.”
Ms Sobolewska says the idea came after she moved from Europe to New Zealand and found it hard to find a rental home in Auckland that suited her needs.
She was frustrated by some agents not responding to her emails, texts and phone calls. Others were unable to answer her basic questions about a property, such as whether the house was insulated.
“I figured it's really hard to actually know how it’s going to be like to be living in a property from the 10-minute viewing.
“By the time you do live there, you are locked into a contract that is a one- or two-year fixed contract as you usually start your tenancy with a fixed contract,” Ms Sobolewska says.
“If things go wrong there's not much you can do – you’re locked in to living there.”
Reviews posted on Smart Tenants will measure a range of metrics, such as how warm and dry the house is, how noisy, and what the neighbours are like.
“We’re trying to work with communities in terms of what is most important for them,” says Ms Turki.
The group aims to create a benchmark average for each metric, so that reviews account for the inevitable different personal standards of each reviewer.
The reviews will be moderated with any personal attacks removed from the website.
The number of reviews posted about a certain property will show whether a review is true or not, says Ms Sobolewska.
Ms Sobolewska, Ms Turki and Mr Wong all are tenants while Peter Hsu is a landlord and says he can offer a landlord's perspective.
The website will hold reviews for properties nationwide and the organisers plan to start Facebook groups for local communities around the country.
Smart Tenants currently has a Facebook page. Its official website is set to be launched early next year.