Nationwide Building Society has invested in Bunk, a digital lettings agency using Open Banking to help property landlords run their businesses and improve the rental market for renters.
The Swindon-based society, which is one of the biggest Buy-to-Let lenders in the UK, said it had long campaigned to improve standards within the rental sector for both tenants and landlords.
The investment is the latest deal from the £50 million Venturing Fund set up just over a year ago to create partnerships enabling the Society and start-ups to share knowledge and expertise. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
As part of the fund, Nationwide is making strategic investments in and partnering with early stage start-ups exploring innovative products and services that could provide real benefits for the Society’s members in the future.
Around half of all landlords choose to run their rental businesses on their own. In a market where regulations change frequently, landlords often need support in ensuring they comply with the rules.
Bristol-based Bunk can automatically list a landlord’s property on reputable sites, verify tenants as well as providing peace of mind to tenants by verifying the landlord proof of ownership.
The service allows landlords to list a property within minutes, which can then be viewed by potential tenants on their website and app as well as on major portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla.
Bunk can make a landlord’s life easier by processing tenants’ references and completing the tenancy set up within the site.
Once the properties are listed, landlords can view them on a dashboard, which also notifies them when a deposit and rent has been paid, saving the need to review their current account statements.
Bunk also allows tenants and landlords to correspond within the site, so enquiries such as expressing an interest in renting a property and maintenance requests will go directly to them, providing transparency giving landlords and tenants peace of mind.
To ensure landlords are up to date with their responsibilities and able to comply with the latest regulation, Bunk offers prompts and smart insight. For example, landlords are unable to take more than five weeks’ rent as a deposit and the system will not progress if they try to take more than this.
In addition, Bunk also offers support and advice for those who have become accidental landlords. Bunk have also partnered with Experian, so tenants who make regular rent payments on time will see this reflected in their credit file, something which starts to redress the balance between renters and homeowners, who’s regular mortgage payments already make up part of the credit file.
Tony Prestedge, deputy chief executive at Nationwide Building Society, said: “Bunk is combining the latest digital technology backed up with human service to not only offer a seamless digital experience but also reduce friction in the rental market between tenants and landlords.
"Many landlords choose to manage their portfolio on their own, the service that Bunk offers could support them, ensuring they’re on top of their obligations and providing a better service to their tenants.
"They are a natural fit for our Venturing Fund investment, which seeks to fund start-ups that are focussed on making people’s lives easier through smart insights and fair practice.”
Tom Woollard, CEO at Bunk, said: “We want to build something the rental market has never seen before. Landlords are facing reduced margins coupled with increased regulation and there has never been a better time to make their lives easier through the use of technology.
"Bunk is there to make the process less stressful and more enjoyable for both renters and landlords. Bunk’s mission is to make renting work for everyone, and we’re thrilled to have a partner like Nationwide backing our vision.”