How HouseME is disturbing the peace
How HouseME is disturbing the peace
Ben Shaw’s digital rental agency has shaken the foundation of the property industry with its innovation, transparency and key selling points
Shannon Manuel

HOUSEME WAS FOUNDED BASED ON EVIDENCE THAT THE RESIDENTIAL RENTAL MARKET is systematically flawed for both tenants and owners. CEO and co-founder Ben Shaw is passionate about fixing this.

‘My biggest motivation for creating an agency was that my friends weren’t allowed to apply for a mortgage based on the colour of their skin. The process is still unfair and hopelessly outdated,’ says Shaw. ‘I was also concerned about pricing. I found that, even with my own rental applications, after talking to the landlord I realised that neither of us – and not even the agent – had any idea what “fair” rent is and should be.’

To solve the problem, the first thing HouseME introduced was an “auction mechanic” where tenants could place bids on accommodation. Shaw was also driven to create employment and help ease the lives of the less fortunate. ‘As a privileged and educated Allan Gray Fellow, I believe that God has given me an opportunity to help others. It might be in a small way, but I’m determined to do so.’

He explains that challenges like scammed deposits and ridiculously high application fees – along with racial discrimination – make things difficult for prospective tenants. Landlords also experience hardships because of poor tenant behaviour, missed rental payments and procurement fees.

Enter HouseME: a specialised, digital-rental agency that provides core services to landlords and tenants. Essentially, it professionally manages rentals for the parties involved, minus the risk, hassle and cost. ‘Renting through us means you only pay 2.5% for lease management, including collections, reporting, maintenance, advertising and renewals,’ says Shaw. ‘We also verify each user so there are no security risks, and hold onto the deposit on behalf of the tenant. By using HouseME, both landlords and tenants gain access to our additional services, such as DepositFREE renting for tenants, and our rental guarantee for landlords. These are used by almost 70% of the people who’ve signed up with us.’

Described as an industry disruptor, HouseME uses technology to make the entire rental process seamless and more efficient. ‘Agencies that charge landlords a full month’s rent just to place a tenant cannot operate on a scale where they match us on costs – although this isn’t HouseME’s largest differentiator,’ says Shaw. ‘We have an advantage because of the data we’ve accumulated and use to understand our customers. We can offer them services they actually want. We have the highest collection rate in the industry and our own rental income guarantee for landlords. This is all thanks to our database, which, of course, improves and gets more detailed every month.’


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March 2020