Few individuals are fortunate enough to witness the emergence of an idea that will revolutionize the real estate industry – specifically the rental market, so it’s with great pleasure, and excitement, that I share a fabulous resource for both tenants and landlords – LeaseRunner.
During a recent interview with Joe Buczkowski, CEO of LeaseRunner, real estate lawyer and finance professor, we discussed his website, LeaseRunner.com, which launched in August of 2011. LeaseRunner has grown by an astounding 500% since October – a growth which has been fueled by the response to an obvious need in the rental market which his website is meeting.
There are approximately 38 million rental units in the United States – an amazing 55% of them are owned by consumer landlords (single homes). Of those rental units, 13.8 million are single units and 7.2 million are 1 to 4 unit complexes.
Joe, what does LeaseRunner do?
LeaseRunner is a web application that integrates initial application, background checks, e-signature leases and rent collection into one paperless process. LeaseRunner is designed with the consumer independent landlord in mind, and so we really help save that customer a lot of time and money.
What gave you the idea to start this up?
Well, I was a small landlord myself, and I got the idea at the time my son was born a couple of years ago. He was born at a time when I was trying to lease several properties all at the same time, and I was trying to work from the hospital room, a few days after his birth, and I figured ‘Hey, I’m a wired guy…I’ve got my laptop, I have my cellphone, I should be able to screen tenants and get leases out’, but it was a hassle. It was quite frankly, impossible. So I started looking for a solution. I figured someone has already created a LeaseRunner out there but I couldn’t find anything, so I just decided to build it.
How do prospective or existing tenants get to LeaseRunner?
If the landlord is signed up with LeaseRunner, they will email the applicant or tenant a link to LeaseRunner. On our site the applicant or tenant can join our secure portal for free.
We’ve designed LeaseRunner with the tenants in mind especially. For example, with our background checks, the tenant does not have to share their social security number with the landlord at any point in time, and if the tenant is going to be on the ACH rent collection, the tenant will never have to share their bank account information with the landlord and the landlord cannot charge the tenant’s account.
These are some of the security concerns we’ve really put first and foremost – the tenant is in control of rent payments at all times, paying on a monthly basis or for convenience they can sign up on autopay.
What has the response been from both the tenants and property owners?
For the tenants, they like that everything is digital and in a very convenient application for them. We save the tenant a lot of time. For example, the application that comes to them they can complete on their tablet, on their phone or at the computer. If they’re interrupted during an application, they can just come back to it and all of their information is going to be saved, so that allows them to complete the application on the go.
Second of all, for the tenant, when it comes time to sign the lease, they can sign using their phone. It’s really easy, they just walk through – they follow one link and they can’t miss or skip any signature points, and then as soon as the document is signed, then they’re immediately emailed an executed copy so they have their own copy of the executed lease right in their email.
For the landlord, we save them a lot of time. The landlord just has to email the application out to the applicant, and then do nothing else. There’s no other effort. He’ll just receive an email when the background check results are back and they appear in the landlord’s account.
Also, our cost structure is really important for our landlords because it’s been designed with the consumer in mind. It can be free, entirely for the landlord. The landlord can charge the cost of screening directly to the applicant, can charge the cost of rent collection directly to the tenant, and if the landlord is willing to refer LeaseRunner to some friends then the landlord can get all of his or her leases for free.
There are no monthly fees, setup fees – none of that. You only pay for what you use.
I knew myself that I didn’t want to pay any fees like that – I only like to pay for the stuff I use, so LeaseRunner is designed that way too.
Our leases are up to date, and they are state and even city specific, so the landlord doesn’t have to research rent lease laws – that’s already done for them. Our lease library is up to date and it is pre-populated with the application data and with the property data, making the landlord’s job even easier!
Where do you see LeaseRunner going from here?
We launched in August, and except for a few family and friends, we didn’t have any customers, but now we have customers in about 800 cities nationwide and about 48 of the 50 states, and this includes big cities, suburbs, small towns – they come from everywhere and we’re really happy about that!
We are very customer driven. We’re constantly listening to our user’s feedback – in fact since we launched, we’ve made some specific changes that was at the suggestion of our users. For example, we’ve made it easier and faster to send applications out; we’ve added email feedback to landlords so they know when a prospective tenant has completed an application. The landlord will even be notified if the prospect decided not to complete an application and rent the property. We also have an email that is sent to the landlord as soon as the tenant submits a payment via ACH, letting the property owner know that the rent is on its way.
LeaseRunner works perfectly for the single family rental market, even including “underwater” homeowners who are interested in renting out their space because they can’t sell their home.
We tried to design LeaseRunner as simple as possible so that both landlords and tenants can use it with confidence. We’ve included a lot of really nice video tutorials that will walk new users through the process and we’ve also include an FAQ section on each state’s laws.
For example I live in Colorado and you can go to LeaseRunner and look up “what are the maintenance obligations for the landlord in Colorado” or “when does the security deposit have to be returned?” We have answers to questions such as these and more for every state.
Does LeaseRunner plan to provide their services to other countries?
For right now we’re really focused on making our customers in the states happy and making sure that they’re saving time and money. We’re happy to be first and be unique in this marketplace, addressing the concerns of the consumer landlord.
With this kind of customer service and focus on quality I know that we can expect some great things from LeaseRunner. Landlords, check back here at RealtyBizNews for updates on this fantastic resource – there are some substantial changes in the works that we will share with you soon!