A disruptive idea to challenge the property rental market

Luke Curmi

Last Updated on Monday, 14 December, 2020 at 5:50 pm by Andre Camilleri

Sqmeterz is a new start-up with a commitment to change the status quo in the local property rental market. ‘Our start-up will bring serious disruption because it also carries a strong social purpose – that of reducing the cost of renting a home while at the same time reducing the cost to landlords,’ explains LUKE CURMI, the brains behind the online marketplace for mid- to long-term property rentals.

“There is no doubt that the rental market has been growing rapidly with the proportion of younger tenants, known as Generation Rent, increasing markedly. Renting is not exactly cheap with tenants and landlords bearing a significant share of the total transaction costs. This was the starting point that I set out to address and was determined to do something about,” reminisces Luke Curmi, the brains behind Sqmeterz referring to the origins of his start-up as “a purely family affair”.

“So together with my father and my brother, we started working on how to change what was a very long established and traditional marketplace. That is how Sqmeterz was conceived.”

“Perhaps the strongest element that is set to make this new platform successful is that Sqmeterz is guaranteeing low fees for landlords and zero fees to tenants. This, coupled with the innovative way of how the platform is set to disrupt the local rental market, is what will really challenge the status quo in the local sector,” says Luke.

Describing what led him to embark on this project, Luke explained that he wanted to mainly address three current pain points in the local rental market namely the exorbitant fees, the laborious and time-consuming viewings and the lack of transparency.

“I have shared the experience of personal friends of mine. Renting property is becoming increasingly expensive and when one takes into consideration that currently, most tenants pay 50% of the first month rent to the letting agency and the other 50% is paid by the landlord to the letting agency, one understands better what is driving prices up. In addition, tenants must pay a lump sum of money as a deposit to cover potential damages. This is what led me to disrupt this status quo with a platform where tenants pay 0% fees and the landlord pays only 25% of the first month’s rent. In addition, Sqmeterz will provide a Landlord Protection Guarantee whereby if the tenant causes damages to the property more than the deposit amount, Sqmeterz will cover the landlord by up to €250. I believe that this is a win-win for both the tenant and the landlord,” adds Luke.

“Other key strengths of the platform are self-listings of properties by landlords in just five minutes, virtual viewings reduce the number of wasted in-person viewings, physical viewings are coordinated and booked online and contracts and other documentation are digitally executed.”

Luke also mentions the unparalleled transparency offered by the platform. “All tenants are screened and their profiles are verified before being uploaded on our online platform and through a secure messaging system, the landlord and the tenant can communicate openly and directly. We are building a community of trusted tenants and reliable landlords,” he added.

“We have managed to launch the Sqmeterz online platform in 12 months from when it was originally conceived having achieved all our milestones in time. We have other plans as we shortly expect to start accepting listings of business and commercial properties. Our ultimate ambition is to take our platform to a foreign market,” added Luke.

“With our Sqmeterz online platform, we can fill an important gap in the market for ‘digital property renting’ – a concept that is bound to challenge this market’s current status quo. Over and above this, we are also a start-up with a strong social purpose – that of reducing the cost of renting a home while at the same time reducing the cost to landlords.”

“But we do not want to just be disruptive. We will contribute efficiency and alignment to the market and ultimately, change the customer’s experience,” concluded Luke.

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