Developed by the British Columbia-based real estate startup LetHub, the River chatbot can book tours, pre-screen tenants and navigate questions that would normally fall upon a property manager during the early stages of the rental process.
“Renters can get their questions answered and get pre-qualified directly with the assistant,” Faizan Ali Khan, LetHub’s founder and CEO, told Inman. “In a typical rental company, a leasing agent would have to do all of that by picking up the phone.”
A recent MBA graduate from the University of Victoria, Faizan thought up the idea for River after realizing that many of the questions tenants ask when they’re starting to look for a place are similar and can be automated with a cloud platform and artificial intelligence. The chatbot replies to prospective tenant’s questions about the place and books tours while redirecting more complicated queries to a human manager.
“A leasing agent typically spends 70 percent of their day answering questions about the apartment and pre-qualifying people,” Khan said. “We wanted to automate some of that process.”
The software costs vary depending on how many units a building has — someone who manages a building with less than 1,000 units would pay between $500 and $600 a month (between 50 cents and $1 per unit) while those with multiple buildings and more than 1,000 units would get a special discount.
The River chatbot is, according to Khan, a way of pre-screening candidates before advancing to the later stages of renting a place to a tenant. At the moment, he and his team at LetHub are piloting it with a few local rental buildings and hope to get more property managers on board by the end of the year.
“We want everyone from the large property manager to the small landlord to be able to use it,” Khan said.