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Your Guide to Renting Smart

The Smart Living Dashboard and Smart Living Score are the centerpieces of RentLab's approach to the rental sector.  

We use the Dashboard to show all of those invisible features of a rental property that you usually don't know until after you move in; the Score aggregates all of this information into a single score that reflects the overall sustainability of a rental property.  With RentLab tools, we enable tenants to easily evaluate sustainability, and to find a home that suits both their values and their budgets.

RentLab tools are for landlords too. We want landlords to have a better understanding of how their properties compare to other properties in their community, and we want to celebrate the investments that they're making that make rentals better.  And ultimately, more comfortable, efficient, sustainable, and affordable rentals mean happier tenants who want to stay in those properties longer.  Everybody wins.


The Dashboard is an at-a-glance summary of the sustainability and efficiency features of each rental property in a community.  


We aggregate public data to create an initial overview and a "Smart Living Score" that ranks, out of 100 (once the score is "built out" for a given community) the expected environmental footprint of a given property.  Landlords can add information to let tenants know about the investments they've made, and the features that make their properties affordable and sustainable. Tenants can likewise share information like utility bills and other property basics. 

In most communities, the Smart Living Score starts out low for everyone, and the total possible score (the "out of" number) is less than 100 while we build the dataset.  Low scores often reflect the low availability of data rather than a truly "low" score (this is why properties get a "green" (highest rated) dot on our map even the the score seems low - in the early stages, green reflects the best performers given the available data).  As more data becomes available in a given community, more points become available, and more properties will have higher scores (the threshold to get a green dot is also higher). 

Every community and every property starts with a simplified version of the dashboard, reflecting the types of data they have access to.  That's why we look to the community to help us by sharing information about their rental experiences.  Visit here for more information and here to fill out our super-simple data-sharing form.

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The Smart Living Score is RentLab's rental sustainability scoring system. The Score reflects walkability, energy efficiency, affordability, access to recycling, utility billing practices, and more. If a property's score is lower than expected, information is missing or inaccurate, or you have other questions, see here, or share information directly here. For more information on any component of the score, you can click on the (i) symbols in different areas of the property dashboard.

The Score includes the following components:

  • The efficiency score is a subset of RentLab's Smart Living Score, and is based on the HVAC and water heater efficiency, lighting, insulation and sealing, toilet efficiency, windows, and refrigerator efficiency. Data are obtained from inspection reports, building permits, owner/manager records, rental listings, and other sources.

  • The recycling availability rating is based on accessibility of recycling services. Properties with curbside, in-unit, or floor-by-floor recycling locations rank highest, followed by distributed on-site recycling locations (e.g. recycling containers throughout an apartment complex), followed by properties with access to nearby (not on-site) recycling facilities and/or collection of limited materials.

  • The walkability / accessibility rating is derived from the Walk Score API (see, and is used to determine how easy it is to walk, bike, or use transit to access key services.

  • Access to greenspace represents how close a property is to public greenspace - parks, college campuses, etc. Properties within easy walking distance (1/4 mile) score highest.

  • Our utility billing rating recognizes how billing arrangements impact the incentives facing tenants and landlords. Ideally, both tenants and landlords have an incentive to save energy and water, but this isn't easy to do in a rental setting. "Monthly budget" arrangements - where tenants pay nothing for utilities if they remain within a specified budget - score highest.

  • Our living space per person rating recognizes that larger living spaces are inherently more wasteful - they require more energy to heat and cool, and more materials to build and furnish. The smaller the space per occupant (approximated by the number of bedrooms), the higher the points, with bonus points for "tiny homes" (below about 150-200sf per person). In addition to being more resource efficient, denser housing allows communities to make optimal use of infrastructure and minimize impacts on the surrounding environment.

  • The transparency score reflects how much information the owner or manager makes publicly available, directly with RentLab, online, or in another way. At a basic level, sharing key information like utility billing arrangements and efficiency features earns a basic number of points. Sharing additional details like utility usage over time earns additional points.

  • Other components include whether a unit is furnished (more points), all-electric (more points), solar powered, and more.

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