Lots of factors can make renting difficult. Not least, like many cities around the world, Berlin is in the midst of a housing crisis. But some factors, rather than being large-scale societal problems, are simply missteps, complications or hangovers from old, bureaucratic ways of working in the way we do business in the rental market. For an everyday tenant trying to find a new home, or for a property manager wading through paperwork, bureaucracy and the problem of trying to find someone who will respectfully and consistently take care of an apartment, there are still too many hurdles to cross. Tenants shouldn’t have to wait weeks to know if their application has even been received; property managers shouldn’t have to wade through piles of bureaucracy and data protection difficulty to rent an apartment.
Neither of these situations is the fault of either the tenant or the landlord. But because the rental process offers challenges and concerns for both sides of the relationship, the relationship between property managers and their tenants can sometimes become complicated. This relationship has always been an intricate and fascinating one. On the one hand, tenants and property managers have a shared interest and a common goal: creating a happy and stable home that is mutually beneficial to both sides of the equation. On the other hand, challenges within that relationship, misunderstandings and missteps can create tension and even distrust. This seems a pity. At Domi, we want to work to change this.
Domi is working towards improving the landlord/tenant relationship by dealing with three integral issues.
Of course, there are some issues – like a situation where the rent is in arrears, or an apartment isn’t in good condition – that require mediation or extra steps. But in general, most problems that arise in the landlord/tenant relationship are expressions of larger issues rather than individual shortcomings. At Domi, we operate on the basis that most people are good people, and as such we’re looking at some of the reasons relationships between tenants and property managers might break down – and how we can address them.
Domi’s digital renting passport makes your life easier in many ways, whether you’re a property manager or a tenant. It offers security, efficiency, accessibility and more. But along with these technical and organisational benefits, Domi is also working towards improving the landlord/tenant relationship by dealing with three integral issues – and offering its own solutions.
There’s a strange kind of intimacy inherent within the landlord/tenant relationship. Even before the relationship is formalised with a contract, as a tenant you’re sharing a lot of personal information with a landlord in a bid to get the new home you want. On the other side, as a property manager you want to make sure that your apartment will be in good hands, which means wading through dozens of applications highlighting a candidate’s financial situation, rental history and more. And at the same time, the two of you don’t actually know each other!
On the one hand, property managers need trusted insights to help them select a compatible tenant. On the other, a prospective tenant needs to be in control of the information they share and how they present themselves.
This is why tenants can sometimes feel as though they’re discriminated against. Perhaps a less traditional working situation (as a freelancer, for example), a lack of rental history (maybe because they are a newcomer who has just arrived in the country) or a reliance on social funding make them feel as though they don’t look good on paper. At the same time, property managers are facing a large and unwieldy amount of data about prospective tenants, as well as the rise of “Mietnomaden”: people who move into a property with no intention of ever paying the rent. According to a recent survey by ImmoScout 24, 52% of landlords have already had experiences with rental nomads, and 35% said they have experienced missed and irregular rent payments.
There are two problems here, affecting both sides of the relationship. On the one hand, property managers need trusted insights to help them select a compatible tenant. On the other, a prospective tenant needs to be in control of the information they share and how they present themselves.
Domi understands this. That’s why our application system allows tenants to create a fuller and more accurate picture of themselves for landlords. Our interface highlights ideal candidates for each property based not just on one element like a high wage but a full picture of the individual, provided using verifiable credentials that a property manager can trust and a tenant can control access to. At the same time, Domi’s filtering of prospective tenants based on verified data removes the majority of the workload from property managers, allowing them more time to assess tenants on a range of factors.
There’s nothing more irritating than a slow process on something you’re both excited about and really need. Tenants need somewhere to live; property managers need their properties to be filled. When processes are slow, this gets frustrating for both parties. It’s a bad first impression and an annoying start to an important relationship!
Speed isn’t just an issue in signing that first contract. It can crop up again around contract renewals, maintenance requests, rent payments and more. It’s an issue on both sides, but our studies of the rental market have found that for the most part, it’s not the people slowing things down, but the processes.
Domi digitises the entire rental process, making everything smoother and faster for both parties. With its intuitive user experience, Domi ensures that every step along the way of the rental journey is easy to navigate. Because it’s all digital, it cuts out those time-consuming steps of preparing, presenting and analysing paperwork that testifies to the tenant’s suitability.
Because Domi operates using the principles of self-sovereign identity, the platform is designed around verifiable data. While other property management software uses “smart tenant matching”, this is based on self-assessment forms tenants fill out themselves with unverified data, and additional verification is still needed for identity, financial and credit data. But using Domi, tenants verify their identity, financial and credit information in advance, and then disclose them as verifiable presentations to a property manager. This means that from the first inquiry stage, the property manager has a clear sense of who might be the ideal tenant. Even better, there’s no need to handle or open a PDF, let alone any physical paperwork! Reliability is baked right in, removing yet another time-consuming process.
Speed is also built into the tenant side of the relationship, with a fast and guided acquisition of verifiable identity, financial and credit data, followed by a one-click-apply process. This means that everything happens much more quickly across the relationship, avoiding frustration and waiting times!
In a recent Domi survey, several tenants highlighted the lack of communication as something that caused distrust and distress: “You don’t even know if you are selected [as the tenant] or not. Nobody sends you a message to inform you. It takes forever to find a place, you lose hope.”
“It’s almost impossible to reply to everyone – even though I would like to.”
On the other side, one property manager shared: “I often receive 300 applications for an apartment in just three days. It’s almost impossible to reply to everyone – even though I would like to.” Another agreed, “I would love to have an overview with all the conversations I had with applicants. But it’s hard to keep track since some call, some… email, and still others send you a message on WhatsApp.” Going through all of these disparate messages is its own fulltime job!
That’s why Domi locates all communication about a property in one place, making it easy for tenants and property managers to stay in touch. You won’t be distracted by other messages piling up, and there’s no need to be confused about whether an email, WhatsApp message, phone call or even snail mail is the appropriate way to get in contact. Domi’s straightforward notifications make it easy to stay in touch, and means that both people know exactly where they need to go to communicate. Because the entire application is processed in the same place on the Domi interface, it makes it easy for tenants to get an update on the status of their application and for property managers to keep on top of communication.
Reinventing the rental market
Offering a more productive and friendly relationship between tenants and property managers is just one way that Domi aims to make renting faster, simpler and more fun. As we refine our product and our offer, we’re always keen to hear from our users. Whether you’re a property manager, a tenant or anyone with a stake in a healthier rental market, get in touch: we’d love to talk.
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