From its inception, RentLab has been focused on big, difficult change. We started as a partnership among a dozen cities, all focused on tackling a growing and inefficient rental housing sector.* While RentLab was still just a twinkle in our eyes, we received a series of grants from the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and the Global Philanthropy Partnership, initially launching as “RentRocket.”
*See our explanation of the split incentive problem here.
In 2017, we became our own company, a social benefit and S-corporation – that means we’re a traditional S-corp, but that our social mission holds as much importance as our profit mission. The City of Bloomington, Indiana (where we started) signed over all intellectual property rights to the corporation, and we were off and running. After shifting our home base to Tucson, Arizona, we won the Tucson Thryve Weekend’s Best Software Award in the spring of 2018 and the Prototype stage of the Ideafunding pitch competition, the Tucson Electric Power Energy Award, and placed second in the Social Impact competition at the Tenwest Festival in the fall of 2018.
we love cities
Our primary clients are city governments because we see cities as the most consistent proponents of resilience and sustainability, and because rental housing is a critical part of achieving those goals. This focus is counterintuitive to anyone who hasn’t worked in the city sustainability sector, but it truly makes sense – more than any other organization, cities are on the forefront of trying to both prevent and deal with the consequences of a rapidly changing environment. They are key stewards of infrastructure (water and wastewater treatment and delivery, road maintenance, etc.). Their climate action, sustainability, and affordability goals are ambitious. Their climate footprints are strongly impacted by the building sector, and rental housing makes up a large proportion of this sector. In other words, for cities, more than in any other sector, rental housing is a pain point and an obstacle to critical goals.
Universities are also important potential clients. As more schools tackle their environmental impacts and the financial burden of getting a college education, more also realize that off-campus housing is a key part of the picture.
To support cities (and their universities), we focus on two things – first, we evaluate and analyze their rental housing sector data to help them craft and implement programs that will make this sector more sustainable and affordable. Second, we help them reach key actors in the rental housing sector – namely, landlords and tenants. To do this, we’ve created an interactive, map-based website that both informs our target audience and empowers them to participate in making that sector better. Cities, landlords, tenants, universities – none of these actors have all the information they need to act in their own best interests. RentLab is focused completely on using data and transparency to change this.
WE BELIEVE IN COLLABORATION
We like allies. We like partners. Our strategy is collaborative, not competitive. We believe in integrity and empowerment. We believe we can and must change the way the world operates. Want to know what role you can play? Reach out to us.