Dirty dishes for days. Parties while you’re trying to sleep. Country music blaring from the basement. Everyone has a roommate horror story, and trying to nab an apartment to share with suitable company can be extremely difficult.
Roomeze is hoping to solve that problem by filling rentals room by room and matching occupants based on their preferences.
The company caters to landlords who want to reduce their vacancy rates and might appeal most to prospective renters who haven’t teamed up with future roommates. The pool of potential clients may be substantial; according to data from Zillow, nine out of 10 renters who are 24 or younger are searching for a home they intend to share.
Roomeze currently only operates in New York City, but wants to expand to any market with a “housing crisis” where renters often can’t afford their own places, said co-founder Jordan Devidovit. Upcoming targets for expansion include Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Miami.
Renters can search empty rooms online and view profiles of potential roommates in each apartment. Each potential roommate has either reserved or presently occupies the apartment.
Roomeze has placed over 2,300 renters in more than 600 units since launching in 2016, according to Devidovit.
If candidates want to see a vacant room, they can book a tour on roomeze.com with a “roommate matchmaker.”
In addition to showing rooms, matchmakers interview candidates to make sure they fit the basic preferences of anyone who has reserved a room or already occupies an apartment of interest.
Couples, renters with pets, or smokers might not be accepted into a particular room depending on a potential roommate’s criteria.
“Instead of looking for a group of people, I’ll look for one person, learn about them and build profile,” Devidovit said. “I will use that profile to go out and look out for other people.”
Qualified renters can reserve a room for a $100 application fee and $400 deposit. If Roomeze finds suitable roommates, they can then co-sign a lease, put down a full security deposit, hand over first and last month’s rent, and move in.
For peace of mind, Roomeze clients can choose to purchase “Roomeze protection,” giving them the option leave their room within 60 days of moving in to be placed in another apartment. The policy costs $100, plus an additional $150 to activate.
Roomeze wants to allow future clients to select furnishings so it can outfit rooms on their behalf. It also wants to take on a property management role, such as by collecting rent, handling repair requests and moderating disputes.
As Roomeze grows the pool of renters it works with at any given time, the startup plans to automate and enhance its matching process. That could allow it to pair artists or vegans, Devidovit said.
“We can take a large pool of users, and match them all at once into multiple apartments, making sure that each roommate has the best possible fit available in our system,” Devidovit said, speaking of his startup’s long-term goal.
“Best fit matching like this is already well proven — recently, the stable marriage problem was used to match kidneys to donors, winning a Nobel Prize for its authors.”
Roomeze is looking to license its website and technology to a large brokerage with the listing inventory and manpower to rapidly scale the service.
The need for a room-centric brokerage like Roomeze has increased in recent years, as housing affordability and job security have eroded, Devidovit said.