Rently to simplify renting; grow footprint in Singapore and UAE

By Nur Hikmah Md Ali
/ EdgeProp Singapore |
From left: Rently co-founders Siebren Kamphorst, COO; Tarik Stafford, CPO; and Dominic Schacher (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - When Swiss national Dominic Schacher — co-founder of proptech start-up Rently — moved to Singapore in 2015, he was put off by the lack of transparency and the tedious administrative process of renting an apartment.
Being new to the local property market, he was unsure of how to find a good agent and had to rely on recommendations from friends. The hefty security deposit was also a cause for concern as he was unsure if the landlord would return the money. “I remember handing over that cheque to the agent whom I didn’t know,” he recounts. “I just had his business card and [hoped] that he was trustworthy.”
Since then, more issues have cropped up, such as the rise of rental scams involving fake listings or fake landlords. Schacher observes that traditional rental listing platforms are becoming more expensive for agents and increasingly outdated. “These platforms can have the same unit listed multiple times, which makes it difficult for potential tenants to view the actual unit,” he says. “We’ve spoken to CEA [the Council for Estate Agencies] about this and they said it’s also a huge problem for them.
Another problem that Schacher has noticed is new agents who use non-existent listings to entice potential tenants to contact them. Such listings may artificially inflate the number of listings on a site.
These problems prompted Schacher and four others — Tarik Stafford, chief product officer (CPO); Siebren Kamphorst, chief operating officer (COO); Emeric Martin, head of design; and Turan Kutlay Kunbi, chief technology officer (CTO) — to found Rently in 2022. Rently is a start-up that aims to simplify the rental process and make it more transparent and safe for both tenants and landlords through digitalisation.
Financial backers
Officially launched in February 2023, Rently is a one-stop platform that handles the entire rental process from end to end. It starts with rental listings of various unit types from single rooms to entire penthouses, provides insurance, facilitates payment of deposits, and mediates potential disputes between tenants and landlords, even after the lease has ended.
It also has checks in place to verify that landlords and listings are genuine and that the tenants are reliable. The platform is integrated with SingPass to ensure the authenticity of users, including screening a tenant’s background and checking the creditworthiness.
As of today, the platform has total listings of between 1,600 and 1,800 units — out of which 400 are still available for rent. The company is currently in its seed stage and is financially backed by multi-family office Aument Capital Partners, where Schacher is the founder and CEO. Rently’s other investors include Dieter Schlosser, the former CEO of SoftwareOne, who has been on the board of directors since January. Schlosser is also a major investor and board chairman of Web Inclusion, a European tech provider of digital accessibility software under the Eye-Able brand. Dhruv Agarwal, co-founder and CEO of REA India, who owns several digital real estate platforms in India, is also an investor in Rently.
Deposit-free service, dispute management
Rently’s deposit-free service is the first of its kind, says Schacher. “No one was offering this service,” he claims. It was a gap that a proptech player like Rently could fill. “From my personal experience, security deposits can be a huge issue,” he adds. “It was difficult for me to pay for it when I first came to Singapore.”
Rently offers deposit financing and dispute management services through a monthly subscription called Rently Care that covers the entire lease period. Any tenant can subscribe to the service, even if they did not rent from a listing on the company’s platform. The subscription fees are not standardised and differ for every tenant, depending on factors such as the type of property rented, the monthly rent, the length of the lease and the tenant’s creditworthiness.
Schacher notes that subscription fees comprise about 80% of Rently’s revenue. The company also earns from the service fees charged to landlord partners. Unlike other listing platforms, Rently does not charge landlords to list their properties.
Rently’s new business model was slow to gain traction among tenants initially. “They found it too good to be true that the company would be willing to take on the risk of paying security deposits,” Schacher relates. Things began to turn around and pick up over the last three months, especially after Rently partnered with established hospitality players, including Far East Organization and Frasers Hospitality, and co-living operator Habyt.
Another aspect of Rently Care is its dispute management service. Subscribers need to record many photos of the unit for documentation, which will be stored in Rently’s inventory. In case of a dispute, Rently can refer to these photos to check whether a landlord’s claim is valid and can use these photos as evidence if the dispute is brought to the Small Claims Tribunal.
So far, Schacher says that their dispute management has been effective, with only three to four disputes brought to court. “With corporate intermediaries and financial backing, it generally keeps everyone honest,” he adds.
More diverse rental offerings
The company plans to expand its reach in Singapore by increasing listings through more partnerships. For now, its partners are institutional landlords, but Rently aims to open up its platform to individual agents specialising in rental properties.
The deposit-financing service is a good proposition for agents as it has increased the tenancy conversion rate by 20%–30% compared to traditional listing platforms. “The conversion from user to tenant is higher since we cover the deposit,” says Schacher. “In addition, we fully insure them and manage the inventory online, which removes all the paperwork, making renting hassle-free and easier for tenants. Besides the fact that agents don’t have to pay to list, they can also close deals faster through our platform.”
However, the selection process of the agents will be rigorous, allowing only qualified agents to be listed on the Rently platform. Of the 35,251 CEA registered agents as at January, only a core group of agents are active, full-time rental specialists. “There are a lot of good agents in Singapore,” says Schacher. “We want to open up our platform to these high-quality partners and agents to make it attractive for tenants to choose us over other platforms.”
Schacher is diversifying the platform beyond residential space. In March, Rently partnered with co-working operator The Working Capitol and cloud kitchen provider Smart City Kitchens to offer access to workspaces and central kitchen spaces. “Anything related to property, whether residential or commercial, suffers from similar issues like finding the right place, paying the deposit, paying the rent on time, and getting the deposit back when you move out,” he elaborates. “For us, cloud kitchens and co-working spaces are very similar to residential in the issues they face.”
Overseas expansion plans
Besides expanding beyond the residential rental sector, Rently also intends to diversify its services geographically. The company hopes to enter the UAE in 2Q2024. Schacher believes the UAE suffers from similar issues of lack of transparency and financing issues with rental payments.
“The UAE has a good regulatory framework like in Singapore, with courts that can handle rental disputes between landlords and tenants, which is why our business model can work there,” he says. “It’s a very similar market to Singapore, just that it’s bigger and faster-moving.”
After its launch this year, the company plans to start its Series A funding, sometime in 2H2024. “We are careful about how fast we move,” Schacher remarks. “We’re focused on maintaining quality as we grow. We can easily open up listings and blast to agents to list on the platform for free. But the quality you get back is very poor.”
He hopes that Rently will be a reliable and trusted one-stop shop for all kinds of rental properties in the future. “We want landlords to look to us to list their properties online, where they will have access to credit lines and a real estate management system,” he adds. “On the tenant side, we want to be what is to travel, so if you are looking to rent, you go to Rently.”
His target is that in five years when a new expatriate comes to Singapore and needs to rent a room or an apartment, people will tell them: “Just go to Rently,” he says.

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