British fintech scale-up flatfair has raised over £9 million in a funding round led by Index Ventures to expand its deposit-free renting platform. The company plans to use the capital to hire a significant number of product engineers, data scientists, and business development specialists who will create and develop new features and services.

Before flatfair, deposits were the only form of tenancy security that landlords trusted, the company says. According to a report by Generation Rent, a campaign group, tenants lose out on more than £80 million a year in interest on the £4 billion of their money held as deposits, with only two percent receiving interest when they get their deposit back.

With flatfair’s payment technology, already used by major real estate companies including Greystar, Places for People and CBRE, tenants can secure their tenancy with just their debit card. In exchange, tenants pay flatfair a one-off membership fee equal to one week’s rent for the lifetime of their tenancy. At the same time flatfair offers 12 weeks’ protection for landlords and free recovery of any additional end-of-tenancy charges, removing the stress from landlords and agents of having to manage this full recovery themselves.

This massively cuts down upfront moving costs and gives tenants a trust score they can take with them to unlock future discounts. Any deductions made upon exit are totally transparent because flatfair is fully integrated with the government-authorised deposit protection provider mydeposits. Flatfair offers 12 weeks’ protection for landlords.

Co-founded in 2017 by Franz Doerr, previously at Deutsche Bank and McKinsey & Company, Google alumni Daniel Jeczmien and former King developer Bartosz Alksnin, flatfair wants to make the instant move-in a possibility. Martin Mignot, a partner at Index Ventures who will join flatfair’s board, commented on their mission: “Around $300bn is tied up in deposits globally, so freeing up just a fraction of this money would make a huge difference to millions of renters who deserve a fairer and more transparent service. But flatfair has the potential to become the ‘Paypal of property rental’ by offering a range of solutions beyond referencing and deposit management. There is huge potential for technology to help real estate companies streamline operations and revenue management, while offering tenants a better, fairer service.”

Other participants in the Series A round included Revolt Ventures; Adevinta, the biggest marketplace specialist in Europe; Greg Marsh, founder of Onefinestay; former Savills CEO Jeremy Helsby; and Taavet Hinrikus, founder of TransferWise.

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