Rentberry is a particularly cynical startup, even in the morally bankrupt age of San Francisco companies seeking to help landlords buy out rent-controlled tenants. Poised to launch on Tuesday, Rentberry wants to turn renting apartments into an eBay auction, and has already signed up "hundreds" of landlords to participate. This presumably will not help the affordable housing crisis!
Rentberry works by gifting the service to landlords for free, but then taking 25% of any money made over the listed price of the apartment, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The ad copy on their website is foreboding:
We strive to maximize your rental price by allowing tenants to submit custom offers and compete in the bidding process. You’ll benefit from detailed descriptions of who your prospects are. The information we provide will enable you to make an educated decision and choose the ideal tenant for your property.
"Striving to maximize your rental price" puts it in pretty clear terms: their company's mission is to further make living in San Francisco impossible for anyone making a reasonable wage, like, say, teachers, who are finding the Bay Area impossible to afford.
Is the CEO of Rentberry, Alex Lubinsky, sensitive to these concerns? Well…
Some will say the last thing the San Francisco rental market needs is a middleman taking his slice when ordinary people are being priced out every day.
But Lubinsky sees it as a supply-and-demand issue. Why should a landlord who may have paid millions for a rental property not be allowed to maximize rents in order to defray the cost of his investment? he argues.
Doesn't seem like it!
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.