Agents will soon have a new competitor for students lets, but not on the high street or online.
Instead, an entirely app-based lettings agency specifically for university students is about to launch its proptech platform, backed by £280,000 raised on funding platform Seedrs.
At launch the company says it will offer 50,000 rooms to rent, helped by listings from US institutional property investor Hines, which has handed over its entire UK student portfolio to SPCE.
The service, which includes a website, smartphone application and an office in London, is due to launch during the first week of November and was created by former Leicester student housing ambassador and merchant banker Leon Ifayemi with adverting executive Omar Fahmi.
“My job as a student ambassador was to take students to properties to view day in and day out and that’s where I saw the issues that students and landlords faced,” he says.
Leon says he then saw a need for a solution that would arbitrate the problems that arise between landlords and students, and also handle the rental process from search to moving out, “rather than just portions of it”, he says.
Tenants will use SPCE almost entirely through its proptech app, Leon says, including rent payments, rent guarantor management, property listings and most other elements of the lettings process.
“By doing it through an app it means everyone involved in the student let gets instantaneous notifications and it’s much smoother than the manual input processes rentals traditionally rely on,” says Leon.
“By doing it this way we can substantially reduce our costs and that means we can charge landlords less to rent out their student properties.
“The student market is much more tech savvy and open to adopting new technology and ways of doing things so our app has a much better chance of success.”
SPCE, which is pronounced ‘space’, will at launch offer three tiers of service to landlords including an Airbnb-style DIY self-managed service, a fully-managed lettings agent-style service for smaller portfolio landlords, and a listings-only service for large institutional investors including university housing departments.