Landlords have been required to publicly disclose buyout agreements made with their tenants since 2014, finally giving us some numbers and transparency into what has previously been a shrouded subject last year. That information helps if you, for example, live in a rent-controlled apartment and are considering a buyout or being offered one. Sure, you might want the assistance of a lawyer... or, as a former employee of Google and Metromile proposes, help from an app.
Here, Newsweek introduces us to Rentmasters, a soon-to-launch service that will negotiate on your behalf during a buyout in exchange
for 20 percent of that buyout or a one-time $99 fee anywhere from 20 percent of that buyout to a one-time $99 fee.
“It is quite a complicated and important puzzle in the housing market,” founder Brian Bensch talks buyouts with Newsweek. “The best market for a startup to go after is niche markets that have a problem to solve. Buyouts can and should be a mutual scenario. I’m a big fan of the buyout laws.”
RentMasters will provide buyout estimates based on your home and neighborhood. Average buyouts stood at $43,000 last summer according to the Chronicle. They'll then negotiate for you with your landlord based on the buyout range you'd like.
Of course, this is not a great idea according to tenant rights attorney Joseph Tobener. “Buyouts are extremely legally complex,” he notes, and Bensch has no bar license to speak of. The founder does allude to speaking with law firms on the subject, but admits he has no formal relationship with any of them.
The big question, as with so much of technology these days, might be, "Well, who is this for?" And as is so often the answer in startup circles, the answer might be " the founder and his ilk." Bensch sees as his target veteran tech worker types looking to cash out and get out of town.
What's more, "We refuse to work with the starving artists of San Francisco who’ve been here since the '70s or '80s and plan to stay here for the rest of their lives,” Bensch says. I don't expect those types want to work with him, either.