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This Start-Up Takes (Some) of the Hassle Out of Renting

Entrepreneur Tyrone Poole's Oregon start-up matches prospective tenants with rental units they qualify for, eliminating legwork and application fees.
February 3, 2017, 5am PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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A decade ago, Tyrone Poole was homeless. As he struggled to reestablish himself, Laura Bliss writes, "Poole discovered the biggest blockade between him and an apartment was the mysterious web of qualifications that landlords required of him as a renter. Property managers seemed to have no rhyme or reason for whom they'd accept, and he just had to cross his fingers and guess. Every time he applied and failed, it was another $30 or $50 he didn't really have, down the drain."

In 2013, Poole came up with the concept for NoAppFee, "a single-entry online platform that screens hopeful tenants against the exact specifications of vacant units, virtually free of cost." The site launched in beta in 2015, and Poole's team is working with the Portland Housing Bureau to set up a .gov site to connect applicants with affordable housing units. 

Poole hopes the platform will be attractive to landlords as well as renters. "Poole says a few [property managers] have been wary of his project—they like having control over who gets into their units—but most are enthusiastic about automating the exhausting process of finding quality tenants, even if it means losing application fees."

The tool has the added benefit of "screening" for housing discrimination: "If applicants match all the criteria, but still don't get accepted by a property manager, that tips off housing officials that another factor could be at play—like race, disability, or religion."

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Published on Friday, January 27, 2017 in CityLab
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