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Ask HN: Review RentPost.com (rentpost.com)
179 points by oojacoboo on Jan 26, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 247 comments



I own with my father a 30 unit building. With that, let me just address the tagline: "Connect with tenants effortlessly, automate rent with online rent collection, organize work orders, and much more!"

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Connect with tenants effortlessly - Not a good thing, Usually leads to excess work orders, more "asks" and petty squabbles about this and that.

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Automate rent with online rent collection - Not sure how this is going to work. We have a option for people to pay rent via CC, but most people opt to do it in cash/check. Since only a fraction would use this, I would have to add to my work load to manually enter their transactions in here to have data integrity.

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organize work orders- Definitely dont want this. If they need something done, they just go the manager and ask. Taking away that element will just create unneeded work orders. We already have a internal system for tracking needed work. I think the last thing we would want is to make it easier for the tenant to complain about things.

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...tasks, contacts and more! I guess this is cool, but we never really have a need for this. You already have to file their rental application and other work anyways, so its not like you wont have this.

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I guess I just dont see the appeal. Its cool to have a nice online interface for this, but I know we wouldnt use it and even my friend who runs a 400 unit complex hates moving stuff to tech. Unfortunately, they always add more work then they solve. The last thing ANY land lord needs, is /MORE/ paper trail :)

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If you get anything from this, get this- I am a technical, HN user that owns a apartment building. I am (what you would assume) your absolute ideal customer.

And with that, I wouldnt use your product without significant changes.

~fin


I'm not trying to attack you personally, but your response is typical of the real estate industry, and exactly why there's a hole in the market worth billions. For whatever reason, customer service is almost uniformly bad in the real estate industry. It's so bad, people don't even realize how bad it is, because they've never had anything else to choose from. For example, this kind of attitude makes me really sad:

I think the last thing we would want is to make it easier for the tenant to complain about things.

This is the same kind of disdain-for-customers attitude that leads web developers to build paid services that are really hard to cancel.

The marketing and branding in real estate are also a joke, but it's the customer service thing that really gets me. There's a huge opportunity here for someone to do it right.

Disclosure: I'm an active real estate investor with three small properties.


How did you come off saying that our customer service is bad? Thats a pretty big jump without knowing me or our business.

Dont assume that because we dont want to induce more work orders / complaints that we have bad service.

What you are saying is "bad" is akin to me asking why sites dont have a "Dissatisfied? Click here for a refund" button on every page. Providing absolute ultimate customer service will cause you to go out of business. Customers will take you to the cleaners if they can get away with it and you need to have boundaries to stay afloat. You can find a great middle ground and keep everyone happy doing it also.


Again, don't take it personally, but I've been doing real estate for the last six years and I've spent tons of time talking to other investors and landlords. I also still rent because the returns in SF for buying are so abysmal. So I've had plenty of exposure to the way the real estate industry works. And the customer service is almost uniformly terrible. I read your statement as saying that you didn't want to make it easier for customers to contact you, because they would just whine and complain about stupid stuff. What makes real estate different than any other industry in this regard? What company with good service is determined to not "make it easier for their customers to complain"?

And there are guys out there doing this right. I've lived in building that had online portals for customers to submit complaints and it didn't seem to be a problem for them. And I've talked to landlords across the country who run extremely efficient operations with low marketing costs, low vacancies, and high rents because they kick ass for their customers.


Please don't take offense, but you are going to run into tenants eventually who will call you DAILY to fix things or complain. Maybe they feel the bedroom is colder today than yesterday, or they saw a spider in front of the building, or maybe they don't like the shape of the clouds overhead on Thursdays.

Until you rent to enough people to start getting these renters, you've been isolated.


Every business has these kinds of customers. Hopefully your only plan for dealing with them is not to make it more difficult for all of your customers to contact you, including the 99% who never bother you.


Nope. We answer the phone the same for everyone. And we already have a web portal that does all of this. But none of our customers use it. They want to complain in person or over the phone.


I get that making it easier to file complaints can be bad, but there seems to be a software solution here. Things like prioritizing the work orders from tenants that seldom file complaints, or use the work order history to calculate to total cost of the tenant and price the lease renewal accordingly. This might all be impractical for legal reasons, but having the data seems like a good first step to solving the problem.


I think one issue here is that the majority of tenants do not see entering in a work order online as a viable or quick resolution. If someone's toilet overflows at 3am, they need someone awake and responding right then if possible. To them, entering a request for plumbing repair seems like getting in line at the DMV, and to be honest, it would feel like that to me as well.

Not decrying a software solution, but while I pay almost every bill online, most of the tenants I've had just pay cash or check, and we have an online option.


I stayed at a place where you could place online work orders. That was a much better interface than calling up. I did not place more work orders because of it, but I did them sooner. So, the number of days that the garbage disposal did not work or the smoke alarm battery remained dead went way down. It shouldn't be difficult to screen for spurious work orders such as "dangerous spiders".


I think the secret to great customer service is to avoid the low end of the marketplace. My apartment complexes website does all of this stuff this stuff. Yet, I have submitted less than 1 work order a year for the last five years because well maintained appliances rarely break. They might charge more than the competition but vacancy rates are something like 3% for a reason.


You forgot to mention that their tenant turnover is much lower which drastically reduces their marketing overhead ;)


Dan, all of your comments in this thread seem to assume that if you can't hear a customer's complaint it's not a real complaint; and, more importantly, that if you can hear a customer's complaint you have to fix it.

Just like any business, you have to set boundaries on how much you will do for free. But why not set those boundaries intelligently, based on how the customer's actual desires match up with your ability to provide services?


@ryan

Sure, There is a line somewhere to be crossed/not crossed. The only example I can give is maybe along the lines of google. There is no support whatsoever, yet people remain happy for the most part when things break. People love google. But you cant call and complain- You have to jump through a few hoops and fill out forms first. Thats all I am saying- If you make things too easy, your costs will go up with no additional return on revenue in either the short or long term.


Google may not have an easy support system, but it's unrealistic to expect expert service from free products/utilities. When you're paying anywhere from $500-several thousand dollars a month for something, I think you're entitled to complain as often as you're upset and should be able to expect things to be taken care of.


Adsense doesnt have phone support and significant money changes hands there.


It may not be bad, but it sounds like there's zero accountability. If I ask my building manager to fix a leaky faucet, there's no paperwork, and if he ignores me for two months, what's my recourse - assuming that my property owners aren't as on the ball as you and your dad?


That's why you have a lease. It should outline the manager's responsibilities re: maintenance. Your options for recourse are numerous, from filing a lawsuit to not renewing your rent and moving on.


Yes, your options for recourse are numerous and likely to cause YOU significant pain.

Why should my option be "Sue or pay thousands of dollars to move" if the landlord just elects not to fix something?


Which is true regardless. What point are you trying to make?


Sure, but you don't have any paper trail proving that you made any of these requests, unless you actually make your own paperwork, make copies, and submit that.


@pinksoda

We fix sinks and whatnot right away- If you dont,they only become bigger issues. :)

Its stuff like "Can I have 13 small dogs in my apartment" that gets to you.


Maybe something in a WO System could be intelligent help... Do some natural language searching to see what kind of question is being asked, and provide a canned response.

So, "Can I have [more then \d+|a dog|\d+ cats]" automatically gets them a "Your lease only allows for 2 small animals. Does this answer your question?" type response.


If they can't ask, you'll find out they just got their 14th dog, though. It's enough to make a man screaming from landlording - oh wait - I did!


I do not know either of those things. However, you are a landlord. To me, it is highly likely that your customers don't like your customer service.

I have hated every single landlord I've ever had. They have no online payment systems. I can't lodge tickets easily. I have no transparency if work is being done, if my ticket is moving.

The reason your customers whine is because they LIVE in those properties. You're making a fair chunk of money from having someone live there, and for the most part it seems the estate agents just want to take their cut and have the customers leave them alone.

It's so prevalent that I now assume it's the default case for real estate: sucking.


IANAL, but wouldn't the correct analogy actually be a website placing a "need help?" button on their page? Which is of course common.


I think he was trying to say that you should want to help your customers. You should be happy to receive a work order from them because now they are a satisfied tenant that can praise your apartments to their friends who have been trying to get their sink fixed for a month.

My friend is a renter and he has wanted a renters interface like this for years.


> I think the last thing we would want is to make it easier for the tenant to complain about things.

and

> "Dissatisfied? Click here for a refund"

are options that are miles apart. When you said that you don't want to maintain an easier communication channel with your paying customer, it is a good sign that customer service isn't your greatest selling point. One doesn't need to buy every product in a shop for 10 years before concluding whether the service is good or bad. A few customer reviews / purchases should suffice.


slumlord


That's not productive :)

Dan isn't a bad guy, I can almost guarantee you. Tenants can be difficult to deal with, and there's just a certain status quo in the industry that everyone has come to accept. I'm just saying that there's a better way, and things like RentPost.com and RentMonitor.com are a step in the right direction.


Thanks ryan.

This does bring up an interesting concept though we can look into... The ability to disable the work order functionality.

Thanks Dan :), and if you ever want go w/ us, just hit me up and we can work a special price up for you for your contribution - Lee


Fourth time I've flagged a comment on HN iirc.

Congratulations. Calling someone a slumlord just because they own property and are willing to discuss their business online does not give you the right to slander them.


The problem is the landlord-tenant relationship is asymmetrical. As a tenant you want to live in a particular place, whether its for location, or amenities, or price etc.

When you lease an apartment, the landlord's record of customer service is almost never a factor in signing the lease. It just never comes up. And the cost of moving is so high that its unlikely someone will leave a unit because the landlord sucked (I know this from experience). So the landlord doesn't have to compete with other landlords based on customer service, they compete based on the price, location and amenities of the units they offer.

So there's really no incentive for most landlords to be better landlords. The only ones who try, are mostly just doing it to follow the law or out of a sense of fairness.

The market just doesn't really reward landlords enough for their customer service ability...


I've lived abroad quite a bit and when you're not sure how long you will be in a city renting is pretty much the only option unless the local turnover is very high (and barring market collapse).

As a consequence I've had a fair number of landlords over the years, from owners that let out the top floor of the house they owned to apartments in high-rises.

The funny thing is that there is no hard and fast rule that says landlords can't be great, I've had absolutely fantastic landlords and really terrible ones and not always in the place where you'd expect them.


Online reviews fix that. 200 times "hated the landlord, terrible service" says a lot.


I see the customer service issues in the real estate industry (especially property management) as being created by two issues (and disclosure: I've worked in real estate for the past 11 years, from the front desk to franchise ops manager to consulting back to the industry):

* High staff turnover * Procedures that suck staff time, instead of supporting them

Being a property manager is, for the most part, an awful job. If you sell real estate, you deal with the owner giving you grief; when you manage a property you have the owner, the tenant, and the suppliers all wanting a piece of your time, and rarely to say thank you. Because you don't need to be a rocket surgeon to work in PM, the pay is low, and most staff are young people looking for something better. When they leave, they take with them most of the corporate memory about the tenant and the property. If you hate your property manager, chances are it's because several times in the past year you've called and been put through to a different person every time.

Lack of procedures is linked to lack of investment in this part of the business (also reflected in low salaries and high staff turnover). Most real estate offices are run by salespeople, current or former. They see one sales commission worth $000s as being infinitely better than one tenancy worth $16 / week. So they don't invest in systems, processes, staff development, or great software. This is the market hole you speak of - but while there's a gap in the market, there may not be a market in the gap...

...EXCEPT that, ironically, a rent roll is traditionally the only asset a real estate business has to sell - without it, you just have a sales team who could go next door and open up tomorrow. PM departments also provide a regular income when sales decrease, which has been the case over the past two years in most of the world affected by the recession / GFC. I don't have enough evidence to support a claim that owners are more willing to invest in their team, particularly property management, as a result of this; but I hope it's the case.


Rocket surgeon. Great mixed metaphor. :-)


But not a new one: "Rocket Surgery Made Easy", by Steve Krug, http://amzn.com/0321657292


Yes, I claim no originality. I just find it useful to insert mid-rant, because it lightens my tone (and tests who's listening / reading!).


This response indicates to me that you truly do not understand what it's like to manage a building with hundreds of tenants. It's not that I don't want to fix real problems (broken sink, heat, disposal, etc) but I can tell you that if have this accessible of a system its only going to make a landlords life worse. Perhaps if you had an option to send in a work-order based on a set of predetermined orders that the tenant could only check off and submit rather than an open comment box it would make my life easier. However, giving my tenants an open forum to tell me they want a new coat of paint, or to install an ac, or fix a small dent is going to make my life a living hell.

Disclosure: I spend 8-10 hours a day managing and talking to other landlords.


Question: without testing, how do you know that an automated "accessible system... its only going to make a landlords life worse" ?

Have you evidence this is true? I work with web hosting and clients can send support tickets at any time, but rarely do. They have the option of asking infinite questions such as, I made a change why did my website break, why is my site not in google for [insert impossible keyword here], I want to change the background color, why is the email from my mom spam... but it almost never happens.


I think any business with strong customer lock-in, infrequent purchase decision, and an immutable monthly cost/revenue evolves into a business where the company tries to minimize support. Think of the level of support you get at a bank, cell phone company, etc. Awful.

I'm not sure about the opportunity there. If you spent 2x on support costs, what would you get out of it? Tons of referrals when people are moving out? Probably not-- movers are busy and rarely have friends handy who are in that rare moment of hunting for an apt/condo.

Now, SERVICES on the other hand... Certainly there's room for apartment buildings that have great gyms, social events, etc.


What happens if your support is bad? Turnover increases and finding new tenant is not cheap. There is always a flip-side.


I'd like to start off with saying that most HN members are NOT the typical renters that landlords deal with.

Most HNers are very intelligent, hard working and understanding/reasonable. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) Not all renters are like that.

Unless you've been a landlord or worked closely with one, it's hard to understand some of the frustrations of dealing with renters. Owning property is not the same as being a landlord.

Some things that we'd think are unreasonable, a renter might think is reasonable. I've had one renter try to not extend lease AND not pay for new month's rent, just because they were only staying for 2 weeks of new month. It's not the landlord's fault they didn't secure a new place in time. The final compromise was to allow them to pay 2 weeks rent. Did it work? No. Think it's easy to get people to pay? No. Think the eviction process is simple and quick? NO.

I think this app would work best in places with atypical renters. Places where the rent is higher than market and the price covers the landlord's time to deal with everything.


That's as good an advertisement for 'iterate' early and often as we'll see around here. Two years of development and that's the first response you give, I guess either you're not the target market or maybe they should have connected with actual users a bit earlier.

So this makes me wonder, was this product developed on the 'they will come' methodology or was there actual end-user involvement and piloting with early adopters during the development phase?

If the latter then you're simply not the target market.

Where I live if you have a property that is 'to let' you contract out the handling of all the details to an agency that manages a large number of properties and you just pocket the cash every month.


Take a look through their blog- they had a year of end user involvement- testing, evaluation and so on.


Ok, cool. The title and the homepage made me suspect otherwise.

What's interesting to me is that all the people that I know that own rental properties have outsourced the handling for a %age of the rent. That may be a cultural thing though, but from what I know about the market typically landlords are interested in the monthly payment, not in dealing with the tenants, if they can afford it at all they'll get someone to do it for them.

Maybe that's the market this is aimed at, agencies rather than DIY landlords?


We're targeting both, landlords are smaller, and property management companies are larger. Their needs a very similar though. To get our base established, we are mostly targeting somewhat tech savvy landlords and small property management companies. We'll grow into larger and larger property management companies over time though.


Ok. What was your most compelling reason for not launching in an earlier phase of the development?


We had a private beta.


Having worked, trained and coached property management businesses, I think much of your review is valid - especially the work order elements. It's not about (as some of the other responses say) being a crappy landlord or ignoring a small fix that turns into a ten grand piece of work - many tenants (maybe not you, dear reader, but when you have a rent roll of hundreds or thousands) do make inane requests. These aren't so much maintenance things as requests - now that I've signed a lease for this cheap house, can you install air-conditioning, build a fence, and re-do the bathroom, and I'll approve a $10 rent increase at the next renewal.

Your response to other elements contacts, tasks, and automated rent collection says to me that the product isn't designed for you. When I've got a team of 4-5 property managers, 600+ properties, some on fixed leases and some on holiday letting schedules, time lost to paperwork is enormous. Actually, I've not worked with an office that hasn't had some sort of technology for contact and property data; managing work orders, automating payments, assigning tasks to other managers are all fairly common now as well (and I see other key selling points in the product, so that's not to be taken as a criticism for 2 years' work).


You make a good point on the work orders. You have full control over deleting, closing out, changing the priority, etc of them.

Think of work orders as a support request for an online company. You get a lot of junk support requests as well, but you have to have something, and the tools to organize as needed. And this is WAY more efficient than speaking with someone over the phone or in person, or taking emails!


It would be a fine line to balance. As we know, it's a lot easier to write a super-critical anonymous comment on Yelp than to say it face-to-face. Closer together in that continuum is placing a work order online v having to make a call (or even send an email).

If it's easier, the PM will get more of them AND those extras are unlikely to be the important ones. (If your hot water system blows, you pick up the phone; if you don't like the shade of green in the living room, you send a web message.) And if you're a good manager, you still have to respond to them all.

I'm raising this as a genuine fear for a customer reviewing the product. It would be interesting to have some user stats that overcome that fear - eg, "support requests rose by 10% BUT the time taken to respond to all requests actually went down by 20%, saving managers three hours each week, AND this feature was identified by many tenants in their improved satisfaction reports."


It's undoubtedly a legitimate fear. But compare this to a company like ATT for example who has way more clients than most any property mgt company. Do you think they would prefer to deal with online support requests from clients or talk to them in person at their store?

Having an in person or live conversation is almost always more costly. Yes, it likely cuts down on the number of miniscule requests that you will receive, but you are likely to get a large number of those via telephone, unless you don't offer that as well, which would be impossible for offsite property managers.

So, in short, yes, I agree with you that the number of silly requests may go up, especially initially. However, to counter this, sorting them takes all of 5 seconds a piece instead of 5 min to listen to them ramble on the phone, the benefits of online rental payments saves you time and money, and the instant organization that comes from having this all flow into one system is in our eyes, priceless.

Thanks for your valuable input!


I hate to say it, but most of the descriptions you provide about yourself as a landlord typify why people often dislike them.


Uh, ok. This is a product marketed to land lords, not to tenants. I am giving the opinion for the target.

Im sure the same thing could be said about attorneys. Its the way the world works. Tenants like asking for misc bullshit and landlords hate doing them.


This is also how your units end up with leaking sinks and tens of thousands of dollars in repair costs. It depends on how you want to run your business. Many companies WANT work orders, and with the system you can read over them, prioritize and determine if you need to address or dismiss. You also don't have to take the call or deal with any of that, they just come into your feed.


You're getting pretty defensive in the face of a potential customer. If I were you I'd take the opportunity to try to understand what WOULD make the OP's life easier. There is, often times, some easy ways to turn an initial detractor into a proponent. At the minimum it won't be the last time you hear feedback like this, so use it as an opportunity to understand the REASONS the OP feels the way he does. That way you can formulate a better response than, "if you don't use my product you're a shady property manager and have a crap maintenance record", because that's basically what you just said.


Here is a landlord feature:

Track the maintenance cycles associated with each apartment.

Here is a tenet feature:

Track work orders to fix a broken appliance.

They might cover the same area, but guess who is buying your product.


Good ideas.

#1 we have in place 2 similar systems to track maintenance per unit and rate your units by this number. And another report to be even more granular to the tenant level :)

#2 jiminy cricket, why didn't I think of that :P


Yea, I assume you do both of those things. My point is eating your own dogfood in this case is owning a 400 apartment complex not renting at a 400 unit complex.

Landlords care more about how much it's going to cost to service the elevator(s) vs replace them. When it's cheaper to replace a refrigerator than repair it. They don't care about how efficient the refrigerator is unless they bundle electricity cost into rent.

Tennents care about how much electricity that refrigerator costs them and how quickly they will have a working refrigerator.

Landlords don't like hearing from tennents because it's costing them money. Automated emails are great if the landlord was going to send it anyway and pointless if they don't already do it. Automated rent payments don't really help them when they can collect a late fee in a few days etc. However, automated printing of those late fees is vary helpful. :evil:

PS: Hidden fees don't just pad the bottom lines for CC companies and banks; apartment complex love that action.


Why would you not be able to say no (with appropriate reasons) to "misc bullshit" requests online via Rentpost, versus doing the same on phone/in person?

Also, wouldn't receiving payments online rather than via checks/cash be easier for you, even if you, say, disable the tenant complaints portion of the site?

PS> I am not affiliated to Rentpost in any way, just amused by your dismissing their effort in strong words.


Or, tenants like a nice place to live, and landlords don't like providing that?


Landlords love providing that. You'd be aghast how many tenants don't want it - based on the fact that once they've lived in it, it's not a nice place any more.

I had a rental house for a couple of years. I had dirt ground into the kitchen floor that took me two days to clean, I had holes punched in the walls, I had the washer stolen, I had the back door broken in when they lost the keys (despite me living five minutes away with another set of keys), I had a shed literally packed full of garbage, I had evictions that took six months (after flat-out non-payment for months before that, and partly because the sheriff "couldn't find them"), I had fleas in the carpet from a dog that was explicitly forbidden in the lease. I had one whole year where I made zero dollars due to three successive deadbeats - still had the mortgage, of course.

Rental is hell on Earth. I can't imagine doing only rental as a career. I'd end up in the loony bin or up in the bell tower taking out as many as I could before they got me.


Try being a landlord. It will make you lose all possible belief in the basic worth of humanity. You cannot imagine.


Maybe, but how does that make his critique any less valid?


My current apartment complex has a portal where one can pay via eCheck and it's pretty awesome. Do you have a "convenience fee" for paying by credit card? How well do you advertise it?

> I think the last thing we would want is to make it easier for the tenant to complain about things.

Kinda sounds like a place where I don't want to live. How are your ratings on ApartmentRatings.com?


You might not. Its not about not fixing things when they break or keeping the place clean. Those things are legitimate concerns and are taken care of.

Its about when a tenant complains because he wants all new appliances because he thinks they use too much electricity. Its about when a tenant wants to get 100$ off his rent every month because he now has a sick uncle living with him. Its about when a tenant wants to have huge Christmas decorations in the front of his door but his neighbors dont like it.

-

Its easy for people on here to idealize a perfect "landlord and me are buddies!" dream, but its not how it works in the real world. A apartment building has costs, salaries and other expenses to keep afloat. If we listen to every complaint from a tenant (and as such, make it easier for them to do as such) we start losing money.

You might say "Well, it will be a better place to live then!" - Great, great for the tenants. But this is a product to be sold to land lords, NOT tenants. You will have a tough time selling me on "Make your tenants happier and make less money doing it" I'm fine (and they are fine) with the current situation.

- This is not a restaurant. We do not depend on referrals, walkins or other methods. Dont apply the restaurant methodology to owning a building because it doesn't work. In a restaurant, you keep everyone happy so they come back again. Spilled something on you? Free meal. Steak was cold? Come back for half off.

Just doesn't work like that in renting.


As a former tenant, I have never asked my landlord for all new appliances or asked them to discount my rent just because they feel sorry for me. I have been in situations where I wanted to contact the landlord about legitimate issues, ranging from “the guy living three floors above me puked out the window onto our walkway” to “the living-room window is still cracked and there’s no heat in the bedroom”, and found it difficult to do so. In the latter case, after getting no response from the landlord after weeks of complaint, I went to the city health inspector, who discovered a long list of code violations in the apartment, including a bunch of things that I personally would never have complained about if the landlord had addressed my immediate problems.


I don't think most HN members are the typical renters that landlords don't like. (Heck, I sometimes think all NYC HN members live exclusively in Manhattan paying $3000/month rent. I know it's not true, but Manhattan seems very popular.)

It's very different being a landlord and thinking about how a landlord 'should' do things. There are just things that being a renter you never get to experience or just hear about in passing. You never get to experience dealing with completely unreasonable renters or constant complaints.

Ever had to deal with a renter that thought it was OK to not pay (at all) if they 'only' stay for 2 weeks into the next month before moving? Good luck trying to reason with them. Good luck going through eviction process which is long and time consuming. Good luck getting the money.


I admit that I have never been a landlord per se, but I do understand that a Tenant From Hell can exploit the law to screw well-meaning landlords.

I also once had a Roommate From Hell who paid a token amount of rent to me rather than to the landlord... thus turning him into my Subletter From Hell... and when I tried to get him to pay the rest of his share of the rent, he gave me a lecture about how screwed I was. (And because of the damage that his chain-smoking did to the house’s lobby area, I lost my security deposit.) I called his successor the Roommate From Limbo because on the one hand, he had WHITE POWER tattoos, played the same Hank Williams Jr. tape incessantly, and had loud s/m sex with his girlfriend, but on the other hand, he paid his rent on time.

At any rate, I’m not sure a tenant who bombards a landlord with incessant frivolous complaints through a trouble-ticket system is really that much more annoying than a tenant who does the same bombardent by telephone.


" This is not a restaurant. We do not depend on referrals, walkins or other methods. Dont apply the restaurant methodology to owning a building because it doesn't work. In a restaurant, you keep everyone happy so they come back again. Spilled something on you? Free meal. Steak was cold? Come back for half off. Just doesn't work like that in renting."

It could work like that if there was Yelp For Landlords.


It depends on the rental market. Here in Pittsburgh, more landlords in the city are bad because it's such a heavy student population. What's the incentive to be good or to update apartment features? Every apartment gets rented out anyways.


About 1/3 of our city's population is students as well.

I have heard nightmare stories about 'Turn' taking weeks to complete because of the high turnover rates in our city.. As well as managers being at whits end 1/2 the time because of workload. We really tried to develop our software to ease these tensions. In some of the companies we have studied, we were able to reduce the workload of the company and reduce the stress.

And in doing so, hopefully we make a happier rental env for everyone :)


I guess tenant retention isn't important to you?

Managers spend massive amounts of money trying to find new tenants for a unit. If you have yearly turnover b/c you intentionally stay disconnected with tenants, this will increase your overhead, not the other way around. Hire a college kid to sort through the work orders and prioritize them accordingly.


ApartmentRatings.com is pretty useless even from a renter's perspective. 35% approval is a great rating on that site.


It's not overly difficult to adjust your mental model of what a good rating is, and read the reviews people leave to see what the common complaints are.

It probably also depends on the area - my complex hovers around 70% and I didn't bother with anything below 50%.


> Just doesn't work like that in renting.

Maybe not, but with more information available online now your next potential tenant will be able to take that into account. (And don't think I didn't notice you dodged the ratings question). Places with better reputations will attract better tenants and have better occupancy rates.


My current complex is fine and has bad reviews on ApartmentRatings, just like every other big complex. Happy renters don't rate.


So basically what you're saying is this tool actually solves the tenant's problems, and not the landlord's...


Couldn't have said it any better myself. That is really what it all comes down to.


Thanks for the input!

what features would you like to see for a landlord/manager?


Good feedback.

Setting up tenants for an online account is optional. Heh, I wouldn't want to create more work either. However, if tenants are setup w/ an online account w/ rental collection online, the amount of paperwork would be slashed to a fraction. Every thing would automatically be digitized and collected, and your staff that normally collects the 800+ checks a month (400 units * 2 tenants) will have more time to sit at the local starbucks and browse hacker news :). Oh, and that is for non 'turn' months. 1000+ unit managers spend weeks during turn. We can turn those weeks into days :)


I own some units and I LOVE the fact that many of my tenants pay me automatically through their Chase billpay or whatever that automatically deposits money in my account. This is so much better than me collecting checks


Now, what if they were automatically reflected on the tenants account balance and all notifications were handled, etc. Also, if they didn't pay on time, they'd get an automated reminder email letting them know they are late, auto assessment of late fees making the system the scapegoat and in turn increasing your on-time collection ratio, etc. We think that's worth a few bucks a month...


If you want to take your business seriously and stay organized and stay on top of things, aside from rolling out your own system, there is no other way. You can't keep up with it all.

I'd address each of these things but I am tied down at the moment. Basically, it sounds like it isn't for you, and it won't be for everyone.


What about the way he's currently doing it? Status-quo is a viable, and often the toughest, competitor.


I see what you are saying about the use of this system; particularly in terms of complaints/work orders.

But if you could get people to use this system surely it would be easy to program (assuming such a system could be added by rentpost) responses to common questions - that surely would save time in the long run (i.e. a 2 minute call turns into 10 seconds selecting the right response).

As an ex-tennant and now a home owner I have always thought that the real estate and rental markets need a serious shake up. I realise the problems faced by people renting property in terms of fussy customers and time wasters. BUT that is a problem for "you" to fix, it shouldn't affect me (a hypothetically sensible, non-fussy, customer).

I've always thought; if the contract says I can do X, making it a bit hard to do X is just not providing the full service. Random example; when we had a minor wiring issue in one house I lived in it took about 3 days to talk to the landlord properly, and another three for someone to come and do the half hour fix.

This was for two reasons; firstly the maintenance system my landlord had was complicated and disorganised (basically, a list he gave his "guys" each day and they did as and when...). And the reason it took three days to get the problem to him was because of the soft blocks he had put between him and his tenants to discourage time wasters.

Could this solve all those problems?


Offtopic, but why the hell are people still using cash/check to pay bills in this day and age?

What country are you in? Do they not have modern banking?


Modern banking, and the expenses that go along with it. I'm not sure that it's actually legal to do this but almost any service like this (particularly rent and school payments) includes a "convenience fee" to offset the service provider fees, or for the middle-tier provider to make a profit, or both. Checks, electronic or physical, don't incur fees beyond whatever your agreement is with your bank.


UK

Free banking

No charges

No "convenience fees"

Free online banking, setup automated payments, one offs, transfer money to other banks in the UK instantly, etc

I assume you're talking about the US?


I have all of those with my credit union in the US. Heck, every bill I pay using online bill pay gives me rewards points typical to what using a CC would do. This includes paying bills where the credit union ends up mailing a physical cashiers check.

All of the above with no charges, although they may have a requirement to have direct deposit set up.


That seems like the exception in the US though.

In the UK using cheques for anything is the rare exception. The plan is to phase them out within a few years, but already hardly anyone uses them any more.


That seems like the exception in the US though.

It's the exception for banks, but credit unions are generally good to their customers. The few dealings I've had with BofA for example left me wondering why anyone would ever deal with them. At my credit union the people are friendly and when I used to go to a branch they actually knew me.


My bank's automatic billing system prints and mails a check in my name to my landlord. So I'm using both modern banking and checks. They are not mutually exclusive.


My wife doesn't trust automated debit systems. "If they take too much of your money, then what do you do?!"

I pay everything by CC, but she writes a lot of checks. She's not what I would call a luddite, she just doesn't trust other people with her money.


An electronic transaction can be customer-initiated, as well. In the EU most billpaying has been through direct account transfers for a long, long time now. Nowadays payments work across the union, too.


In the UK, we have a "direct debit guarantee". Basically if anyone ever takes too much in error, you just call up your bank and tell them to put it back, and they do.


If you don't trust other people, that's even more incentive to use electronic systems.


I'm not sure where DanBlake is from, but paying rent by cash/cheque is still the norm in Canada.


Do you send it through the post or drive to a office or something? I just can't see how there could possibly be a less efficient way to pay bills.

I'd simply go insane if I had to remember to pay bills.


You just give a year's worth of post-dated cheques.


I would shy away from doing this. The bank has no obligation to uphold the post-date that you write. I once sent in a post-dated rent check that was dependent on a deposit clearing, and the landlord (accidentally) brought it in earlier and it was accepted by the bank. Luckily, the bank covered it for me, but I still had to deal with overdraft fees and such. The bank manager explained to me that post-dating is typically honored by a bank.


Banks charge 1-2% as a credit card fee, but no fees for using checks. In my building, they pass the fee along to me (the tenant), so it's in my best interest to pay by check.


You've gone straight from "why the hell are people still using cash/check to pay bills in this day and age?" to "it's in my best interest to pay by check", via the assumption that the only alternative is credit card.

Why not, say, just log into your online banking and arrange an electronic transfer to the landlord's account on a set day of each month?

I think this was parent poster's point - that in some countries (even those less advanced than America in other ways) the banking system allows much greater convenience. Most people in Western Europe have the option of paying their rent electronically without writing a cheque and without incurring extra fees.


I should have clarified, I lumped electronic checks in with physical ones in understanding the parent's point. I use electronic checking transfers to pay my rent, not physical handwritten checks. Most bills in the US (including rent) have an E-Check option, and that's what a lot of people use. I assumed when the parent was talking about alternatives to cash + checks, they meant credit/debit.


Do you not have automated bill payments? Everything in the UK is paid automatically electronically from bank account to bank account. It's kinda cool.


sounds like perverse incentives - surely there is a lot more cost (human review, for one) to processing a check than an electronic transfer. here in NZ the bank fees for automatic payments or debit card like transfer is less than checks and consequently checks are phasing out fast, almost gone


This. The only people who pay by CC I think do it for the rewards/points.


As a tenant to several both tech and non-tech complexes in SoCal I would like to say that because you wouldn't use the product, because you worry about a paper trail, I would rather not live at your complex.

The difference in customer service between say, an Archstone community with amazing online customer service from online bill-pay to online maintenance requests to say, a complex that runs by paper and phone calls, is night and day.

This service solves such a big problem that I myself have been rough drafting a similar website but looks like these guys are way ahead of the game. Congrats and I hope it does well, I know I certainly would use it as a tenant.


You have an option to allow tenants to pay rent with a credit card?!? I am shocked about two things. First, doesn't it hurt you to lose the processing fee off the top? Second, why on earth are tenants still paying with a check when they could pay with a credit card and reap insane rewards points. Getting airline miles for such a large, regular expenditure is a free flight per year (not to mention charging and paying off rent each month probably would help increase your credit limit and credit score).


Yea, the fees would either be passed to the tenant or absorbed by the manager (in order to improve their collections, better to get it with a fee than not)


We pass the fee along.


Website looks great but the copy needs some serious work.

The main phrase:

Start Simplifying Rent™ in the RentPost Cloud

If you make the lady at my leasing office read this, she will be like 'What????'

Connect with tenants effortlessly

I don't think the landlord wants to connect with the tenant. He is interested in collecting rent.

"We're just getting warmed up; get on the bandwagon."

Why should I care that you are warming up?

You don't want to invest in yesterday's technology.

I don't care about technology, I care about how you can solve my problems.

We want to work with you to continue to build RentPost to best fit your needs; we listen!

So you are suggesting that RentPost may not fit my needs.

I think you are in the same market as this software:

http://www.landlordmax.com/

Look at their website. It's not pretty like yours, but the website copy is all about the customer's needs/problems.

E.g.

Find out who's late paying your rents in seconds.

Over 100 reports at your fingertips for you to analyze how your properties are doing within seconds.

Good luck.


we are targeting a more technical audience right now while we get our feet in the door. We feel this is the best audience to help us get going. If we start to see issues with traction (it's been great so far), we will pivot as needed.


Huh? Having a great headline for normal people generally means it's a crappy headline for tech people. Regardless, tech people have non-technical friends/relatives that they might send this to.

Regardless of your opinion (and mine) you should A/B test your headline to maximize the traffic/attention you are getting.


By technical audience, do you mean technical people who are also property owners? If yes, then the headline is great.

Though my guess would be that majority of your customers will be non technical. If the technical audience refers your website to non-technical people, you want your page understandable to them.


This response strikes me as being unnecessarily defensive. If your response to criticism is to dismiss it because you already have great traction, why do you want us to review it?

Still, hats off to you for actually sticking with a vision and building something. Best of luck and great job,


I'm currently managing approx 50 (?) units and I thought I'd drop my opinion:

Make me understand the pain I am in. Real estate is painful, but as you have undoubtedly noticed, people think the pain is a natural part of the package and they can't separate the two.

How about automatic late notices? Projected vacancy and turnover assistance? I mean, those are really painful and annoying processes (at least to me), present me with a punch-by-punch pain tour and offer the solution.

Additionally, for heaven's sake, drop the buzzwords and market talk. I feel like you designed the site first and tried to shoehorn some content in there. Property managers care little about the "cloud" or "we're easy to use!". They want to get paid on time, how are you helping them?

Best of luck! I think there is massive potential here but I tend to think you are going about it the wrong way in your presentation. As rwhitman has said, it seems like you are trying to solve tenants' problems, not the landlords'. Noble indeed, but not the best strategy.


the problem is that most property owners aren't tech savvy. Most of them don't even have a webpage.

And I'm not talking about the 1-2 unit owners...I'm talking about multi building companies with $600K in yearly revenue who haven't even bothered to setup a 1 page site with their phone # and hours of operation.

If you are going to take on this market, you are going to need a direct on the ground sales team.


I'd be interested to know what kind of Customer Development went on here. How many discussions took place with potential users and what were the problems they pointed out that RentPost is now solving?


Totally agree - I'm not sure most people on this list are actually landlords/property managers to be able to say whether or not landlords/property manager would or wouldn't be able to use this.

From an end user perspective, I think the design looks totally awesome. And, I would be thrilled if my property manager would adopt this.


I think you hit the nail on the head.. thrilled if your manager adopted this... Management companies are offering things like tanning packages, gym memberships and all sorts of crazy perks to get tenants, this is yet another advantage for them over the competition.

We aren't pioneering the space here either, there are half a dozen competitors.


A lot of that has to do with the fact that people tend to be short sighted. i.e. What can you do for me "right now". They're not as concerned of the benefits over 3 or 6 months -- for example, having a tenant be happier because a work order was made and taken care of more quickly doesn't have an immediate, measurable return... hell, it might scare people off out of the fear that they'll get a deluge of inane requests (valid, how do you address that). Getting their money faster? That has an immediate measurable return. Possibly being able to see if a prospective tenant always pays on time? That might as well.

I'll agree that some form of pounding of the pavement and sales are going to be required. Just be picky in that regard -- there is a massive range in the quality of sales people, and the ones that genuinely care about the customer (instead of themselves) are also in the minority.


you would think this is the case, and yes, an on the ground sales team will be helpful in addition to our affiliate program and partnerships, but these days are starting to phase out. These people are starting to realize they can't operate their companies the same way they did 10 years ago, and as the younger generation steps up the ladder in these companies, it's getting more attention.


You completely dismissed the parent, who is 100% correct. While you think these days are "starting to phase out" you are incorrect. Despite younger managers taking over, this is an industry where even younger people are not as tech savvy. Take your technical blinders off, step back, and look at the big picture. A 100% awesome tech experience is not going to matter when you don't have users.


we won't get entire market saturation over night, no. So, yes, you are right, there are technical hurdles, but we believe that the market is large enough right now, at it's current state to support this company. Our competitors agree, and our traction thus far hasn't proved any different. This is something we will address as we grow, but for now, we are pleased with our traction.


Take it from someone who has pounded the pavement doing sales for my previous start-up, selling online lunch ordering service to restaurant owners, there is a lot of merit to what the parent's and grand parent's comments. You would be surprised how much many people despise technology. I think its because many of them were early adopters for various tech services sold to them by slick salesmen in the early days of software, and were then burned by how expensive and complicated it all was. They are now skeptical So yes you would need a stellar sales team, which I'm sure you will get. I love the idea by the way, and I do think there is a lot of scope. Best of luck!


thanks for that. We do realize for deeper market penetration we will likely need an active sales team. We are happy with healthy online, technical user, adoption at the moment though as we establish our base.


> We are happy with healthy online, technical user, adoption at the moment

I think you'd be wasting your time to focus on anything but these people, ever.

Otherwise you'd be selling to the type of person that would find 10x the complexity from introducing a computer and the internet for every bit of simplification that your service provides.


On the one hand, I'm 100% inclined to agree with you, but on the other I think he might be ok.

My last landlord added me as a friend on Facebook when we signed the lease, and was actively attempting to use email and smart phones to facilitate communication. I've heard similar stories from other folks, so we may be at a tipping point where landlords are more open to SAAS tools, primarily because of the ubiquity of mobile apps and Facebook etc


Additionally, since the aforementioned demographics on property owners and management companies is accurate, you should consider alternative tactics.

What about modifying the initial workflow from the Tenants perspective and allow Tenants to make rent payments to Landloards who are not yet even on this site?

Seems like the easiest way to address your potential market (landlords) since there is certainly a huge demographic of renters who would like to use this service from the payment perspective. Changing the focus on the landing page to be directed at the Tenant -- as in PAY YOUR RENT NOW, and focusing on the benefits to the tenant as part of your conversion process.


YES, but there are SERIOUS issues to doing this with regards to payments. You essentially have to be a registered bank or approved status in order to aggregate payments in order to support this. It's very complicated, expensive, and there is tons of red tape. This is where we wanted to go from the start before addressing many of these concerns.


sorry, but these are just excuses. disrupting process is the entire goal, so start thinking outside the box and figure it out, not avoiding it because its "hard"


How many potential customers have you talked to that said they would 100% purchase this?

While I would love it if you'd prove me wrong (go, do it! be a success!), your responses here appear a little naive. Spending 2 years building something like this is very impressive, but it doesn't sound like you've talked to very many customers. (I get that just from the vague statements you're making about "these days", "starting to realize", etc.)

I know nothing of the space, so I can't comment to that. But it does sound like you would benefit greatly from doing some customer development, Steve blank style.


Well, we have hundreds of beta accounts currently. I'd say that is something. Also, the interest has been quite high, not to mention, we aren't pioneering anything in this space, there are quite a few other competitors that do very well.


How many of those beta accounts are paying?

Like I said, I know nothing of the space, so I wasn't even aware of competitors. I think that's good news that there are others already succeeding, now you just have to do things better than they do!

That said, how do you know they're doing so well?

Another spin on the idea that I'm sure you've thought of: what about targeting this software to a bigger client, the companies that run apartment buildings? Include a notification system (so they can notify all building residents), and you could start to build building-based online communities. Anything like that in the works?


Check out http://www.landlordmax.com/ and especially the blog. This guy (selling Java-based desktop tenant management software) managed to eke out quite a profitable business in a few years time. His blog has stats, afaik with sales and nr of users etc. (he used to hang out on the old BoS boards (maybe still does?) and was one of my inspirations back then to get into actual product development).


yep, and there are others too, even web based ones. This isn't anything new, we just think our service is and will be better.


Yes, I was just making the case that there is a market for it, and that internet-only sales is possible in this market.


Property owners are a diverse group. They range from boneheads with no high school education to college professors. This service is clearly intended for those who like to use web services, which is still a big group (and growing).


bingo, you nailed it. At least that's how we see it ;)


I just forwarded it to my manager, it would not surprise me if i'm not the only one doing the advertising for them.


The design is sick. Wonderfully balance color scheme, beautiful call-to action buttons (I clicked "see pricing" a few times just because I was compelled to), and I love that it's iPad and iPhone compatible out of the gate. These are my initial impressions, I didn't dive too much into the content. But looks great on the surface!


"The design is sick" - think there may be a typo there, reading your comment- "slick"? :P


"sick" can be slang for great or cool. see http://onlineslangdictionary.com/definition+of/sick


and to shake one's booty means to wiggle one's butt. allow me to demonstrate.


I think sick is the new wicked/cool/insane.


Given the rest of the comment, yes, that's a typo.


Very well designed! One thing: out of context in a tab, your favicon could seem inadvertently religious†.

†: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_cross


I had the same reaction. I personally would change the tab.


I found that it reminded me of a cemetery.


If I were you I would strongly reconsider your pricing....you're underpricing by quite a lot.

The last place I was in, the company my landlord used for online rent collection charged 1.50 per transaction...to the tenant. That's in addition to whatever fixed monthly fee the landlord was paying.


The danger with underpricing is that it can make it harder to sell. If you're priced too cheap, there must be a catch, so potential customers will be less likely to buy.


We charge $1 per transaction, and have thought about 1.50, but we like the solid $1 number. We'll play that out and see how it works for a while.

As per the pricing for the software, we know it's cheap and will be considering price hikes in the near future. We wanted to come out of the gate swinging and get some traction.


I agree the pricing seems low. I was shocked at the low monthly price considering how much money changes hands for an average rent check.

Does the target market behave more like consumers than businesses?


I found the pricing page confusing at first. At a casual glance it looks like most of the plans are exactly the same. Something about the design made me ignore the number of units listed at the top.

It also doesn't state if there are transaction fees, which you mentioned in another comment.


Found it confusing too. Easy fix would be to add a new row in the table with the numbers so it appears in both the table and the graphic.


We'll review this, thanks for the input!


Also check out how it looks on the iPad or simulate this by resizing your browser width so that it's at the smallest possible size without having a horizontal scrollbar. The content is right up against the browser edge with no space. You should add some padding on each side to avoid this.


ouch, I knew about this, forgot to put in a fix... thanks for reminding me!


Amazing! I run a coworking space for entrepreneurs in Brooklyn, which means every month I'm running around gathering up a dozen or so checks from tenants--so this the most exciting tool I've seen in a long time.

Thanks, oojacoboo. You're a lifesaver!


that makes me :)


Congrats on the launch! A few people here aren't sold on the concept but that's fine. There are obviously others that are.


Don't mistake constructive criticism for not being sold on the concept.


Couldn't agree more, I appreciate the input on things! I am a very harsh critic myself ;)


Love the site, unfortunately I'm definitely not in your target market :) One quick & easily implemented suggestion for you: put your phone number in a more prominent place.

My company targets business owners as well, and at first I buried our phone number on the contact or about page. After talking with some customers I decided to not only make it more prominent, but to put it at the top of every page. Best change I ever made, the conversion rate of people who call us is astronomical.

Business owners, especially ones in 'offline' industries, often want to hear your voice before they decide to work with you. Anyways thats just my 2 cents, congrats on the launch!


I wouldn't use the term "cloud" in the main slogan. A lot of people don't know what it means.


I think this is great. I've been dreaming of a day when I can do online billing with a landlord.

I once had a landlord where I was doing online bill pay from BofA, and they would mail the landlord physical checks, but the landlord wouldn't accept them. Apparently they periodically would think the bank's automated check was junk mail and would toss them in the trash and persisted to accuse me of not paying rent. So I will never mail a rent check again without a physical check in a handwritten envelope.


This looks absolutely incredible - I would love it if you could get landlords to use it.

Unfortunately both of my previous two lacked even an email address. My job has a contact email for employment verification and I had to get a special phone number from HR for my landlord because they didn't use email. This company probably has two dozen properties around town (each with multiple units) and doesn't even have email. Sometimes its amazing when we step out of our tech field and see how normal people live and work.

That being said - if you could convince landlords to give you 20 minutes for a demo, I bet you could sell a lot of them on it. You would probably need a sales team for that though.


for the large operations with massive numbers of properties that where people are old school that make the decisions, this is absolutely the case. There are a large number of 200 and less companies and owners that are quite tech savvy and absolutely willing to adopt, at least from everything we have seen so far.


That's awesome, I'd love to see a new generation of landlords that use stuff like this.

When I get my utility bill - he calls and leaves me a voice mail with the total and then I combine it with my rent on a single check and send it in. That's not efficient by anyone's standards. Best of luck to you guys, maybe my next landlord will be using RentPost!


As a current Buildium user, I really like the look of this. I'm a small property manager and although I love the convenience of having software like this available I'm curious how your online payments are processed. My biggest complaint with my current program is that it takes 5-7 days for rents to hit my account and then another 5-7 for them to hit the owners' accounts.

I think a great market for a product like this would be real estate agents that do some property management (10-25 units).


This looks great!

Do you have any thoughts on lower tiers? I have 1 rental unit. On the one hand, $9/month is pretty low; on the other hand, paying the same as someone with 15 units is psychologically painful =). If it was like $20/unit/year for 1-4 units, that'd be pretty cool.


We've considered a very small free plan, and will think more on that. As per the rent collection for these accounts, it doesn't become profitable for us at these smaller numbers, so this is why the $9 plan exists.


Are you thinking of making this internationally available? The whole concept of 'rent collecting' and 'checks' or 'paying rent is cash' doesn't exist in Europe. Rents are paid by bank transfer, usually automated (with rental contracts stipulating that the tenant needs to set up this automatic transfer or otherwise there will be a rent hike).

Re: pricing, I agree that a smaller or freemium plan would be nice, but for people who don't need anything from you to do automatic collections (i.e., everybody outside of the US ;) ), it would be quite hard to see how you could make money off them.


Hah, good point. Probably should add a plan w/o the online payments to cut down on the internal cost so we can push out a cheaper plan.. Heck even a freemium plan


What's with the '$get_social()' on the bottom right of the page?

I'm guessing it's not meant to be like that.


I think it is a silly way to present the social networking links, but not exactly appropriate given the audience. I'd take that off.


the change is going to be made... I thought it was cheeky... but people don't get it, it's a FAIL, I realize ;)


I think it's just a clever way to show their Twitter, Facebook, etc.


I found the dollar sign and underscore confusing. As though there was something wrong with the markup.


can you describe what took two years? It looks nice, but just trying to understand where the time went. Thanks!


day here, day there, all adds up, the application has thousands of files... these things just take time.


Sorry to be pedantic, but that's not really the definition of full-time.


You might want to go through all your pages and do a spelling/grammar check. For example, take a look at this: http://rentpost.com/tenants

"Your rental property now comes standard with it's very own web dashboard"

When I see an error like that, I lose a great deal of respect for the company. Either it means it's worked by people who lack understanding of grammar, or lack the motivation to proofread their work. Neither is a great signal for me.

The website is BEAUTIFUL though.


Congratulations on the launch. I like the look of the product and wished my landlord would use it.

Looking at the comments you may want to adjust the pitch a bit to show that it makes the day to day management of units more efficient. If your tool can identify bad tenants quickly a landlord can address them before it forces other renters to leave. Also easy reporting of problems, however minor, prevents small issues from becoming large ones. For instance a leaking tap is much less costly to repair then a tap and a water damaged ceiling and floor. Other efficiencies could be the tech itself removing the lags of phone and voice-mail communications, using template replies instead of having to write fresh emails or make long phone calls for all situations, rapid forwarding to contracted service providers for repairs, and tracking of expenses for similar items and services. One of the big complaints of property managers is that they mostly get calls for bad things or when tenants and strata owners are mad. If you could make communications more formal with a tool like this you could minimize the time managers have to sit on the phone and be yelled at which could make for a happier workforce and cut some of the BS out of the workday. Oh and look into Strata managers also


I've thought about doing something like this for a long while. Finally I had an apartment complex a couple years ago that allowed you to pay online (e-checks only), so maybe the industry is finally ready for this.

Expect a lot of resistance to landlords letting tenants pay with anything but e-checks, though. Think about adding something like automatically sending out emails to tenants to remind them to pay the rent (opt-in on first payment)?

Oh, and I think you might be underpricing yourself.


thanks for this, yea, we are connected with the ACH network for check processing, and we do send notices to tenants. We realize that the pricing is a bit low.


The page took over a minute to load for me. After hitting reload -> 4.5 seconds for the main rentpost.com/ to load, 12s for combine.php, 20s for typekit javascript (which seemed to block anything from loading until it was done, including resources from rentpost.com domain and jquery from the google ajax api). After these resources are in my browser cache, the load time is normal (400ms) but the first load and after a reload...ouch!


server was getting hit HARD there for a bit.


I see that you offer a 14 day free trial. How does someone go about doing a trial of software that transforms the entire process of running an apartment building? You get all your tenants to sign up with this system, then change your mind and make them sign up with a new system again?

It might be more useful to have a live demo system people can log into both as a tenant and landlord to see how it works.


Are you guys aware of http://www.rentjuice.com/ ? How to you compare to them?


I love the 'Unlimited Units' plan for $249 which is there just to make 'Unlimited Units' plan for $69 look like a good deal.


RentMonitor beat you to the punch. What would you say the advantages of choosing RentPost over RentMonitor are?


wow, this is the first time I've seen them... I will have to check out their offering more.

There are others too... http://appfolio.com http://buildium.com http://propertyware.com http://tenantfile.com and others. This isn't a new idea, people have been using property management software for years. We have just taken a slightly different approach to implementation with automation and communication between the two parties, landlord/tenant.


Good question. We are hitting 2 different markets.

Our ability to automate a lot of the managers monthly activity sets us appart. Rentmonitor currently only does 'after the fact' accounting, meaning tenants still have to bring in a check or pay an e-bill. Our system allows tenants to pay electronically through their site and submit work orders.

So the time savings w/ our software can be huge. As well as payments getting 'lost' or not recorded doesn't become an issue anymore.


There are a whole heap of competitors in this space. I would say the way to get ahead is via a direct sales force.


Why do I need a website to connect with my tenants? They have my phone number and email. Assuming I signed up because they would prefer to contact me through this service, then if I were the type to ignore them by phone and email, I'd probably ignore them through this as well.


Well, if that's the case, this probably isn't for you.


I find one HUGE error. In today's world, you call the people that rent from you "residents" -- not "tenants". When I see or hear the word tenant it make me cringe. Might as well draw your fingernails across a chalkboard. Tenants rent office, industrial and retail buildings. Residents rent apartment units. I have a million other comments as well, some favorable and others negative, but I hate to type and am too busy to bother going into this at length. Good luck going forward. Lots of other competitors out there -- but your pricing does seem reasonable.

Oh and BTW, I would NEVER rent a building from DanBlake. He's the type of person who gives the industry a black eye, as well as ensuring that the indutry stays at least 10 years behind the tech curve.

That is all.


So since you're way ahead of the game. I would like to suggest this. The ideas behind rentpost.com have been on my mind for a few years now. I've never done anything to pursue it so congrats, the site looks great. Please, grow and hire people so that this saturates the market. Then, when large enough, please provide a clean interface for prospective tenants to view apartment listings. Searching for apartments have got to be one of the biggest pains to deal with. If you have a central database of awesome tech-savvy apartments with your website as a portal for great customer service, I don't see why you can't make your customers more happy by providing listings.


Several years ago, I had an apartment that used a similar online rent payment system, though I can't remember the name of it (payyourrent.com? rentpayment.com? hmm). As a tenant, one of the features I loved most about them was the ability to pay by credit card - so I could earn points through my rent.

I didn't see a mention of being able to accept credit card payments, so if that's not in this version yet, here's a vote for having it in the next version.

Good luck with the property owner sales end of this business too. As a tenant, I love systems like this, so I hope to see it in use someday.


Something that makes it easier to be a property owner is great. I see this not going after the current market but people like me who want to make renting easier.


Who did your design? I'm looking for one.


oojacoboo this looks awesome man - congrats! What did you develop it with?


I'm also curious as to the technology behind the site.


We use the Symfony framework and jQuery.


I think execution on this is really great, even if the copy needs work.

I worked on vaguely similar concept about 12 months ago and it is definitely an interesting space. Our angle was to try to remove the need for a real estate agent by empowering landlords.

My advice for your system is to get out there and sell, sell, sell. You'll only get better by direct sales, you'll only get traction via direct sales. They won't come to you, you'll need to bust your ass convincing them to get on board. If you do that then the copy doesn't mean a thing.


Can you talk about what you did, the process from day 0 to now. I'd be interested in what you learned if anything.

This looks so awesome, but I'm not your market. I'll post this on my buildings HOA board.


Please make it obvious if this is available for international customers or US only. I dug around but not any closer to knowing if this service is available at all to me.


Haven't read all 220+ comments so sorry if someone has already suggested this, but what if you tried to convince landlords by sheer weight of numbers. Allow tenants to enter their landlord and 'vote' for them to adopt this system, as well as encourage other tenants to do the same.


Disappointed how similar the sign up pages are (https://www.shopify.com/services/signup vs. https://rentpost.com/pricing)


Disappointed? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.


I'm really hoping you actually become mainstream and the only way to manage rents and payments. I've had this idea a couple hundred times while looking for a place and then while having to deal with payments etc. Goog luck guys, keep us posted.


I'd like to get more of a sense of why it took you 2 years... is anyone using it yet? A blog post on your process would be great. 2 years seems like a long time (assuming you don't have a bunch of customers already using it).


Beautiful, technically and visually. The only reason for (business) failure would be if you released it 20 years too soon. I sincerely hope you're the one to make the tipping point.


An odd nitpick, but your logo looks like a religious artifact.


I would change the "Few Goodies" wording on the Take the Tour page; it feels like there's very few goodies. "Highlights" or even "A Few Goodies" works better.


wow yea, I thought for sure that said "A Few Goodies" :/

I dont' like that section all together though... needs redoing.


There's also a typo on the tour page in the 'Few Goodies' section. You wrote 'Fuly' instead of 'Fully'.

Other feedback: I am overwhelmed how great your design is.


This looks great. I think you have a great looking and useful product here. It could take awhile to catch on, but I think you have something.


it's not a blow-up-over-night groupon or zynga business, we know. Our goal is to create a sustainable business with healthy growth. Thanks for your kind words.


How is this different than propertysolutions.com?


That's a good question. I don't know myself. Do you have other competitors in this space?


It's an incredibly fragmented market. There's plenty of competition, but the biggest players in property management software (http://www.realpage.com and http://www.yardi.com) have less than 10% of the market.


This looks sweet! I wish my landlord used it.


I think with tools like this, that's a very common reaction. My suggestion to the founders would be to work to leverage that sentiment to get RentPost in front of landlords. A couple ideas:

* Allow roommates to collectively pay their rent online without the landlord being a customer of RentPost. You then turn around and cut a cheque which is mailed to the landlord. Included with the cheque is the upsell to subscribe to the service.

* Allow tenants to submit maintenance requests, etc, turn these into an email to the landlord. The property manager could simply reply to the email, but you could also give them the option to manage the "ticket" online & you could ease them into your service.

On a different note, hit up the Property Management trade shows!


Awesome suggestions!

We haven't thought of the 2nd concept at all. I'll have to bring this one up to the guys.

thanks :)


i like the idea.I've thought about doing something like this before and wish every place would take credit card for rent. It would be great to be able to get credit card points for my largest monthly expense and also not have to worry about cutting a check every month. Its a great product from the tenants perspective.


Great looking site, love the idea. Forwarded your site off to a few friends who could use this. Best of luck to you!


:) you're the best!


> You will not find anything that is more user friendly, period

And yet, no hover states on your buttons :P.


Heh, input received.

+1 for you :P


Will online payment collection work with all U.S banks?


It should for all banks that operate on the ACH network, which from my understanding, is all banks in the US.


Does this process payments from Canadian banks?


Hey!

We are currently working with our merchant provider and our dev team to support Canada.

I can let you know ASAP of any updates. Just give us your email via rentpost.com/contact form.

thanks for the input :)


Who did your design? In house? It's AMAZING.


yours truly ;)


37signals want their design back.

Edit: Come on, the site design is a rip off of the product site of i.a. http://backpackit.com/


Heh,

I think I see what you are trying to get at. We used a very popular design philosophy right now. Same reason why all tires are round :P

http://clockspot.com/ http://www.postbox-inc.com/ http://www.skyledger.com/ http://www.kindlingapp.com/ http://www.roninapp.com/ http://www.mailchimp.com/

This is a really cool resource to see the hottest, freshest websites weekly: http://abduzeedo.com/tags/sites-week

Thanks for the input, we love to hear from both sides of the fence.


hey jacob, great to see you finally got this off the ground. good luck, it looks great!


Totally dumb pedantry, but:

> You will not find anything that is more user friendly, period

If you write 'period' does that mean you don't need a period? It's the only sentence in the list that doesn't end with punctuation.


This is a great start... it would also be useful to have a system that automatically created listings to post on craigslist and any other sites


what technology you use - php, ruby ?

and why


We use php b/c of previous experience, availability to scripts, compatibility with existing technology, and we like its licensing.




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