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COVID-19 has been tough for both tenants and landlords, and it is the physical process that has made things challenging for both parties, especially if one wants to vacate the premises or for that matter rent out a new one. The refund of security amount and rent deferment due to the contagion are the biggest areas of concern, especially since most lease agreements do not factor in the virus as a force majeure event.
Of late, there have been a slew of launches of tech interventions to deal with these issues. One of them is the launch of an escrow account that takes care of the know-your-customer process, generates legal documents and also holds the advance and security deposits digitally, not to mention the rent receipt that it generates month-on-month.
This escrow mechanism may become the norm once the government’s draft model tenancy act is implemented and will go a long way in pre-empting litigation.
“In the event of the escrow account mechanism gaining popularity, one may see legal cases pertaining to real estate dropping from 66 percent to 33 percent as almost half the cases are to do with rental and resale transactions,” says Ashwin Chawwla, the founder and CEO of Escrowffrr.
In India, 66 percent of pending court cases in India are to do with real estate matters and the country is globally ranked 163rd in terms of contract enforceability.
“We are trying to bring in digitization of escrow to democratize the rental process by using technology,” he says.
The facility has been launched across nine cities that include Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Jaipur and Indore. The charges are Rs 3,999 for the tenant and Rs 999 for the landlord. The rental documents have an inbuilt COVID-19 protection clause that treats the lockdown period as a force majeure event and makes it clear that no rental would be charged for the period.
“The conventional process of renting and vacating a property is full of several bottlenecks and is heavily dependent on multiple physical interventions to close the loop. This, in the current environment where social distancing is the de facto norm, becomes problematic and has led to a slowdown in rental activity across India.
‘Neo Rent’ is designed to be the one-stop solution to address all of these challenges. We have crafted this offering by leveraging our unique escrow-based approach to create a holistic trust-based rental transaction suite, catering to the complete rental journey of users,” he says.
Here is how it works.
Anyone can register on the platform first – the landlord or the tenant. Post registration, the KYC process is completed seamlessly as the government’s Digilocker is integrated into the software. Post which a standardized contract between the two parties are generated.
“The user punches in digitally the variable information with regard to the property and the two parties on the platform. These are auto captured in a standard contract which is accessible to both parties on their dashboards,” he explains.
For signing the contract, the parties have two options before them. They can either download, print the document physically or e-sign it. There are also payment gateways available for generating the document on the requisite stamp paper.
The next step is to deposit the security deposit and advance rent in the escrow account. Once deposited, the funds get reflected on the dashboard of the two parties.
“There is always a time lag between when you sign the contract and when the tenant actually moves into the property. The idea is to provide adequate protection to the tenant on the amount deposited by him till the time he moves in,” he says, adding the landlord too has to meet certain milestones such as getting the property cleaned, dressing it up with a fresh coat of paint etc.
Depending on the completion of these terms and conditions the advance deposit in the escrow moves seamlessly to the landlord, he says.
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When the tenant finally moves into the property, he instructs that the amount from the escrow account be transferred to the landlord. The same mechanism is utilized every month to transfer rentals and a digitally signed rental receipt is generated.
At the end of the term, if any one party wishes to exit the lease and get back the security deposit or return the deposit, there is a contactless exit plan in place.
“By a click of the button a notice is sent to the landlord and as per the terms and conditions of the contract signed by the two parties, the deposit is returned after the landlord has ensured that the property is being returned in the same condition,” he says.
The company is also in active discussion with state RERA authorities for use of the escrow mechanism for channel partners.
“We intend to create a mechanism that protects their brokerages,” he says.
The firm is also in talks with co-working and co-living service providers for embracing the neo-rent technology.
Hello World, a subsidiary of Nestaway Technologies, has launched 360Life – a contactless home-rental solution to ensure safety of its customers. 360Life primarily focuses on three axes of living and comes with multiple tech-enabled features in the co-living space.
The first axis focuses on health and safety protocols, wherein, house hunting is replaced with real time video-based home-tours. It also provides non-sharing private smart-lock enabled rooms, health safety checks for all the tenants and staff. Video chat supported tours help to rent a home safely and remotely without any human contact.
The second axis focuses on home office solutions, making the work from home exprecience for the tenants seamless and efficient at the same time. 360Life provides the tenants with cabinet-cum-work desks, 24*7 uninterrupted power with industry standard WiFi solutions and meeting rooms in the common areas, in case more colleagues want to attend meetings together.
The third axis focuses on the happiness quotient, aiming towards a positive mental health, given the current circumstances, so as to lead a healthy social life. “Through 360life we are trying to redefine urban living post COVID-19, by not just providing a private living space which can convert to your private office but a safe living that can also fulfill your social needs.” said Jitendra Jagadev, Founder & CEO – Hello World.
Additionally, Hello World is also offering zero lock-in, zero brokerage and instant move-in to all its customers.
NoBroker.com has partnered with SBI to offer flat 300 cash back on maintenance payments of the value of Rs 6000 or above on using SBI credit card. The offer can be availed by residents of societies using NoBrokerHood and Society Connect.
The same offer can also be availed by residents of societies that are not using NoBrokerHood by entering the society details, the bill details and transfer account details on NoBroker Pay to make the payment instantly.
“We are committed to bringing digital payments in real estate. People traditionally use cash or cheque for maintenance payment and it used to take 2-7 days for the amount to be reconciled by society. Residents have been struggling with reconciliation issues. By paying through the NoBrokerHood, Nobroker or the SocietyConnect apps, the maintenance payments can be made instantly and seamlessly,” said Akhil Gupta, co-founder and CTO of NoBroker.
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