Joining the proptech revolution, Aaron Short wants to make life easier for landlords and the people renting their properties
Aaron Short is tired of the broken rental market. As both a renter and as a landlord, he knows just how sluggish, frustrating and bewildering the experience can be for everyone included. Now he’s trying to do something about it with his new startup. “Accommodation.co.uk is a next generation letting agent that uses industry-leading technology and local letting experts to provide a first class service to landlords and Generation Rent,” explains Short, the company’s co-founder. “We recognise the need for automation in the lettings industry and we’re passionate about making renting better for everyone.”
The startup, which is set to launch its beta version in March, stemmed out of his own observations. “Whilst studying at the University of Lincoln, I moved from house to house like a lot of students do,” Short says. “I used a number of different letting agents over the years and quickly realised that my friends and other students who rented were having just as poor an experience as I was having. There was a lack of transparency throughout and, ultimately, it was a poor user experience.” What made it feel even more Kafka-esque in nature was the concurrent rise of apps like Deliveroo and Uber. “We could order food, taxis, literally anything we wanted within a few clicks and yet reporting a maintenance issue or signing a document could take days or even weeks to sort,” Short remembers.
As he was studying, Short also saved up to and bought his first property, which he subsequently began to rent out to other students. “I then got to experience things from a landlord’s perspective and discovered that the experience using letting agents didn’t improve – and it was expensive,” he recalls.
Something had to be done and Short believed he was the guy to do it. So, after teaming up with his co-founder Matthew Meekins, who also doubles as COO at the student experience-boosting platform Student Smart and the student renting startup FreshRent, Short launched Accommodation.co.uk in 2017. “We started off creating a search platform for university properties and then it quickly moved onto becoming a wide platform, handling the whole lettings and property management process,” Short says. The platform is designed to create transparency, accountability, convenience and an increased response speed.
For landlords, Accommodation.co.uk pledges to cut 95% of their duties by placing ads on portals, obtain credit information about tenants, contact previous landlords for a tenant review and create a tenancy agreement. But that’s not all. “We will also have a network of experts – local lettings experts – and community managers who will dedicate themselves to supporting landlords and tenants on the ground,” the co-founder explains. “The way we see it is that our technology is the catalyst that enables our people to be at the centre of everything we do and as a result we can save everyone time and money while finding happiness at home.”
These first steps of his entrepreneurial endeavours to realise these visions were made easier by the fact he knew several landlords. “Through those connections, we were able to launch with the help of angel investors who saw the vision and need for the product within their sector,” he explains
It’s taken the company almost two years but now Accommodation.co.uk is ready to launch its beta version in March. “It will be a huge milestone for us and I’m excited to share our vision with Generation Rent and landlords,” he proclaims. “This is the first step towards a renting revolution.” This trial will be closed and only available to a select number of landlords. The ambition is that the launch will rigorously test the platform. “It will be a great way to see our hard work in action and we’re confident that within a couple of months we’ll be ready to take things to the next level and fully launch across several large cities,” Short says.
While Accommodation.co.uk's idea is no doubt innovative, the startup isn’t alone in this space. In fact, there has seemingly been a proptech startup explosion over the past few years. From Yopa and Settled trying to make it easier to sell properties to Airbnb uprooting the renting market and VC firm Pi Labs dedicating itself to investing in proptech startups, it certainly seems as if the property market is destined to be transformed. And if all goes well, Short and his team will play a part in it.