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EasyRent provides a win-win solution for students and landlords

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11 November 2020

First hand experience inspired Commerce student Toby Thomas-Smith to start a venture that provides academic-year rental options for university students, while optimising rental returns for landlords. He has launched EasyRent, thought to be the first and only platform on the New Zealand market connecting students and landlords.

EasyRent’s unique value proposition comes from its 9+3 model which separates a traditional 12-month lease into long and short term leases. Landlords rental yields increase by renting their properties to EasyRent’s pre-verified students from February – November and then the properties are rented as short-term accommodation to holiday-makers from November – February, at a premium rate. A 9 month rental to students ensures that they only pay rent during their academic year.

Toby’s idea came from personal experience. “They say to understand a problem fully you need to have experienced it first hand and I could not agree with that more. My Eureka moment for EasyRent came when I went through the awful process of having to find a property myself, after living in the UOA Halls of Residence in 2018 at O’Rorke Hall. I was returning home for the summer after my accommodation at first year halls expired in November and needed to find a flat to move into in mid-February for 2019. But when looking for a flat I was shocked to find that the only option in the rental market was a 12-month lease which is not suitable for first, second and third year students. My peers from Halls were having to sign leases in November and December and start paying from that date. But barely any of them were even living in the properties over the summer as they all returned back to their homes across New Zealand and overseas.”

Toby also has an understanding of the problems faced by property owners, dealing with low occupancy rate problems in the non peak season, having worked in property management. He was a sign surveyor for Colliers. “This taught me a lot about the sales figures in different areas and the market shares of all the companies operating in Auckland.” Toby was also a private short-term property manager for almost three years. “I became very familiar with the short-term accommodation market and the occupancy patterns. The apartment I was looking after relied on the peak season to make a profit, as during the non-peak months the occupancy rates were so low they didn’t even break even compared to the body corporate and mortgage costs. In the summer months they had an average occupancy rate of 80% which made me think  – what if they just operated on AirBnB for the peak months and had consistent income from long-term tenants in the non peak season? Students were the perfect fit as long-term tenants because they only need properties from February to November, year after year.” He then put his theory to the test. “I lived in a 9-month rental last year from February to November and then the property was rented via AirBnB all summer. The whole process ran incredibly smoothly, increasing the landlords rental yield and saving myself and my flatmates thousands of dollars.”

While getting his venture ready for launch, Toby has had the support of CIE’s Start-Up Studio programme. Start-Up Studio offers University of Auckland students and staff free co-working space and the opportunity to reach out to staff at CIE for advice and connections to New Zealand’s wider entrepreneurial ecosystem. Toby says “I have been a member of the Start-up Studio since mid 2019 and have found it a fantastic space to help my mind develop ideas. It is a great entry into future shared space offices and gives you an understanding of what it will be like working within such spaces in the future.”

Start-Up Studio Programme Coordinator Jessica Schneider says that she has been impressed with the way Toby has approached market validation. “Toby listens to his customers – students and landlords alike – and reacts incredibly fast to their feedback. He is not just assuming he knows the answer already. He has talked to hundreds of people to make sure he is solving the right problem, in the right way.” Toby in turn says that this approach has been incredibly important to him and his team. “We promote ourselves and the values of EasyRent through the motto ‘Students helping Students’ which we feel is incredibly important in solving the problem. We want our students and landlords to grow with us and have adopted an extremely interactive approach with all our clients by acting on any feedback they have about the process or website.”

2021 is set to be a pivotal year for EasyRent. It will be the first year students are living in their 9-month properties. They already have almost one hundred students on their books and they are hoping to expand significantly before 2022.

Students and Landlords can both register via their website www.easyrent.nz. Follow them on Instagram for promotions and giveaways – @easyrent.nz.

Easy Rent
Easy Rent

social media

11 November 2020

First hand experience inspired Commerce student Toby Thomas-Smith to start a venture that provides academic-year rental options for university students, while optimising rental returns for landlords. He has launched EasyRent, thought to be the first and only platform on the New Zealand market connecting students and landlords.

EasyRent’s unique value proposition comes from its 9+3 model which separates a traditional 12-month lease into long and short term leases. Landlords rental yields increase by renting their properties to EasyRent’s pre-verified students from February – November and then the properties are rented as short-term accommodation to holiday-makers from November – February, at a premium rate. A 9 month rental to students ensures that they only pay rent during their academic year.

Toby’s idea came from personal experience. “They say to understand a problem fully you need to have experienced it first hand and I could not agree with that more. My Eureka moment for EasyRent came when I went through the awful process of having to find a property myself, after living in the UOA Halls of Residence in 2018 at O’Rorke Hall. I was returning home for the summer after my accommodation at first year halls expired in November and needed to find a flat to move into in mid-February for 2019. But when looking for a flat I was shocked to find that the only option in the rental market was a 12-month lease which is not suitable for first, second and third year students. My peers from Halls were having to sign leases in November and December and start paying from that date. But barely any of them were even living in the properties over the summer as they all returned back to their homes across New Zealand and overseas.”

Toby also has an understanding of the problems faced by property owners, dealing with low occupancy rate problems in the non peak season, having worked in property management. He was a sign surveyor for Colliers. “This taught me a lot about the sales figures in different areas and the market shares of all the companies operating in Auckland.” Toby was also a private short-term property manager for almost three years. “I became very familiar with the short-term accommodation market and the occupancy patterns. The apartment I was looking after relied on the peak season to make a profit, as during the non-peak months the occupancy rates were so low they didn’t even break even compared to the body corporate and mortgage costs. In the summer months they had an average occupancy rate of 80% which made me think – what if they just operated on AirBnB for the peak months and had consistent income from long-term tenants in the non peak season? Students were the perfect fit as long-term tenants because they only need properties from February to November, year after year.” He then put his theory to the test. “I lived in a 9-month rental last year from February to November and then the property was rented via AirBnB all summer. The whole process ran incredibly smoothly, increasing the landlords rental yield and saving myself and my flatmates thousands of dollars.”

While getting his venture ready for launch, Toby has had the support of CIE’s Start-Up Studio programme. Start-Up Studio offers University of Auckland students and staff free co-working space and the opportunity to reach out to staff at CIE for advice and connections to New Zealand’s wider entrepreneurial ecosystem. Toby says “I have been a member of the Start-up Studio since mid 2019 and have found it a fantastic space to help my mind develop ideas. It is a great entry into future shared space offices and gives you an understanding of what it will be like working within such spaces in the future.”

Start-Up Studio Programme Coordinator Jessica Schneider says that she has been impressed with the way Toby has approached market validation. “Toby listens to his customers – students and landlords alike – and reacts incredibly fast to their feedback. He is not just assuming he knows the answer already. He has talked to hundreds of people to make sure he is solving the right problem, in the right way.” Toby in turn says that this approach has been incredibly important to him and his team. “We promote ourselves and the values of EasyRent through the motto ‘Students helping Students’ which we feel is incredibly important in solving the problem. We want our students and landlords to grow with us and have adopted an extremely interactive approach with all our clients by acting on any feedback they have about the process or website.”

2021 is set to be a pivotal year for EasyRent. It will be the first year students are living in their 9-month properties. They already have almost one hundred students on their books and they are hoping to expand significantly before 2022.

Students and Landlords can both register via their website www.easyrent.nz. Follow them on Instagram for promotions and giveaways – @easyrent.nz.


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