Urban: This New App Streamlines Landlord Duties, Marketing, and Payments in the Emirate

Good landlords do whatever they can to make life more convenient for their tenants. Making life easy for tenants requires top-notch organization tools that keep landlords on top of maintenance and repairs.

A growing number of landlords are getting organized by managing their landlord duties online. However, until recently, streamlining property management duties online has been challenging.

Among the duties landlords need to manage are:

  • Vacancies and occupancies
  • Tenant information
  • Rent collection
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Emergency calls
  • Marketing strategies (including PPC campaigns and content marketing)
  • Lease violations
  • Evictions
  • Showing units to prospective tenants
  • Tenant screening and credit checks

Many of the above landlord duties can be managed online, but require using multiple third-party platforms. For example, many landlords use Microsoft Excel to track repairs, a separate app to collect rent, and rely on their computer’s native contact application to document tenant information.

Landlords are more likely to become disorganized when they use multiple software applications to keep track of their duties. Disorganized landlords are more likely to miss appointments, forget about repairs, and lose track of important tasks. Ideally, landlords should be streamlining all of their activities into one central application.

While tenant screening and credit checks will always require using officially approved agency portals, most landlord duties could be performed on a single platform if such a platform existed. While it’s always been possible, it didn’t exist until the CEO of Cafu launched a new app called Urban.

Urban is the ultimate app for Emirate landlords

In response to tenant frustration with misleading photography, inconvenient viewing times, and limited payment options, Cafu has launched a new app called Urban designed to make renting in Dubai easier for landlords and tenants.

People looking to rent a home through Urban can count on some interesting and convenient features. For example, all listed homes are preapproved, the app provides a virtual tour, and allows approved tenants to pay rent in 12 monthly installments directly from their mobile device.

Rashid Al Ghurair, CEO of Cafu, told The National his aim is to make Dubai’s residential rental market more transparent and efficient. Al Ghurair commented on the global rental market being a $1 trillion dollar industry with room for growth in Dubai. Currently, 70% of Dubai residents are renting and that number is growing.

Urban is free to download but will cost landlords a fee

Although most landlord apps are free, app users end up paying for some kind of service to make the app profitable. Urban is free to download and install, but landlords will be charged 5% of a tenant’s rent once that tenant has been accepted through the app.

This fee structure is the opposite of the rent collection apps that are free to landlords, but charge tenants for the convenience of paying rent online. For example, rent collection apps usually charge tenants about 2.5% as a convenience fee when paying rent through the app.

For landlords who don’t want to deal with a bunch of third-party apps and extra fees for each service they need, the 5% fee seems reasonable.

Urban solves a big problem for tenants

Urban may not be the perfect app yet, but it’s got time to grow and evolve. Tenant frustrations expressed in a 2019 survey prompted Al Ghurair to start working on the app. Many respondents reported the rental process as stressful. Two-thirds of respondents to the 2019 YouGov survey said live home tours didn’t match their expectations and 30% said it was difficult to coordinate tours with agents.

Urban boasts the following convenient features:

  • Supported by iOS and Android
  • Virtual tours
  • Homes listed are carefully inspected prior to being listed
  • Tenants can lock and unlock smart locks with the Urban app
  • Offers can be submitted through the app
  • Rental paperwork can be completed through the app
  • There is a web version of the app available

As of 2020, Urban has over 200 properties listed in several locations with more expected to be added soon. The app couldn’t have been launched at a better time. Dubai is expected to see 50,000 new residential units in 2020 on top of the 31,000 new residential units added in 2019.

Urban remains local to the Emirates for now

An app like Urban is exactly what the entire rental world needs; however, Al Ghurair wants to remain focused on Dubai’s local market for now. Perhaps in the future we’ll see versions of this app available worldwide.