Zumper, which operates a large digital marketplace for rental housing, announced a new program Thursday meant to give small landlords up to a year’s worth of guaranteed rent.

The new program is called Rent Guarantee and it includes a handful of benefits for small landlords who list their rental units with Zumper. The most appealing of those benefits to many landlords will probably be rent protection, which is a kind of insurance that kicks in when a tenant in a Zumper-listed apartment fails to pay rent.

“If a landlord rents their property through Instarent and the renter does not make rent payments, Zumper will cover missed rent and help the landlord re-rent the property,” the company said in a statement. “While the apartment is vacant, Zumper will cover the rent up to 12 months.”

Rent Guarantee also covers property damage and a portion of eviction fees when needed. Additionally, when a unit becomes vacant Zumper will “step in and help the landlord re-rent the property by providing premier listing placements, generating leads, and more through Zumper’s comprehensive rental services.”

Other features of Instarent include tenant screening and digital signing capabilities.

The program is part of Zumper’s Instarent service, which charges small landlords 2 percent of a unit’s monthly rent for the duration of a lease. (Zumper also provides a free listing option, though that version of the service doesn’t include various features such as the rent guarantee and priority search placement.) It’s available to landlords with five or fewer units.

In its statement, Zumper framed the newly announced rent guarantee as a particularly useful right now, when multitudes of people have missed housing payments thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

“With more than 80 percent of landlords experiencing missed rent, and only 63 percent of them ever getting reimbursed,” the statement argued, “the need for a fully digital leasing solution with payment support is needed now more than ever.”

Zumper also noted that there are almost 8 million landlords in the U.S. who own between one and 10 units. Those units make up about half of the country’s rental stock, but the majority of the units’ landlords are typically unable to recoup costs when tenants miss rent. Ergo, Rent Guarantee should be particularly useful to them.

The company’s announcement comes just weeks after it debuted a new partnership with Matterport to create 3D apartment tours. In March, as the pandemic first started ravaging the U.S., the company also fast-tracked a variety of online tour tools.

Ultimately, Zumper said in its statement that it wants to “make renting an apartment as easy as booking a hotel.” The company claims 15 million visits every month to its online apartment marketplace and website, and it has raised a total of $140 million in funding.

Anthemos Georgiades

In the statement, Zumper co-founder and CEO Anthemos Georgiades indicated that the company is focused on leveraging those resources to help during the pandemic.

“As one of the largest rental marketplaces in the country, we are dedicated to making a difference and proactively helping during these uncertain economic times, starting with individual landlords,” Georgiades said. “This is our first step in a multi-pronged effort to do what’s right for our customers.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

coronavirus | rentals
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