If there ever was a part of life prime for disruption, it is the tenancy process.
Doubly true when moving to a new city or competing for a decent property in a hot market. If you do not have an in, it means scanning listings, smiling and dialling, and even sitting outside places for rent with the hope not unlike one feels when checking their lottery tickets.
Jonathan Eppers had enough of that experience so he decided to do something about it. Mr. Eppers is the co-founder and CEO of RadPad, a mobile rental marketplace he founded with partners Tyler Galpin and Tim Watson in 2013.
Mr. Eppers moved to Los Angeles nine years ago to take a product management position at MySpace. Competing with the 70 percent of Los Angeles who rents helped plant the seeds for RadPad.
“I’ve rented since college,” Mr. Eppers said. “Four years ago I was ready for a new place and I was aghast at how difficult it was to find an apartment.”
His partners had similar experiences so they set out to develop a solution to help renters.
“We discovered most products are geared toward landlords,” Mr. Eppers explained. “We created an app with more of a consumer focus, one more conducive to the lifestyle of the renter.”
The result is an app available on iTunes, Google Play and at RadPad that has become the largest apartment search service in America the company said.
The next step in RadPad’s growth was a logical one, Mr. Eppers explained, and that was to improve the rent payment process. While most renters are comfortable with completing more of life’s tasks on their phones, most landlords are still in the Stanley and Helen Roper era where they prefer checks.
“Paying by check is a hassle,” Mr. Eppers said. “Many people only have checkbooks to pay rent.”
“We’re becoming a cashless society. The solution was to develop a process where people could pay their rent with their credit and debit cards.”
And with their phones. People use their phones to pay for rides, meals and many other things, so they should be able to pay their rent the same way.
But instead of trying to change landlord payment preferences, RadPad sends the check via registered mail on the customer’s behalf, and notifies the renter when it clears. The landlord is notified the tenant will be paying by RadPad, so when Mr. and Mrs. Roper get the check they are completely happy. Those hip enough to can arrange to accept electronic payments.
Roommates can both register with RadPad, link their accounts together and track the status of each other’s payments.
So far, so good, Mr. Eppers said. Without a dollar of advertising RadPad is on track to process $100 million in rent payments this year.
“We have sent almost 10,000 checks and less than 20 have been returned,” Mr. Eppers said (most of those were sent for customers who were in the process of eviction).
“If you send somebody money in the mail they tend to cash it.”
RadPad customers using debit cards pay no fee, MasterCard customers are charged 1.99 percent, and other credit cards are charged 3.49 percent. Later this year RadPad users will be able to pay with MasterCard’s digital wallet MasterPass.
There are many benefits to paying rent with a credit card, Mr. Eppers said, including credit rating improvement and the increased generation of points and cash back.