App eases rent payment, cuts property management costs


A model demonstrates RentRahisi administrator dashboard. FILE PHOTO | POOL

When Leroy Kayanda and his course-mate Joseph Sharia started their software development course at the university, they never had the slightest idea it would turn out to be an all-in-one property management solution.

Five years later, their app, RentRahisi is looking after tenants' interests, while making property management easier and less risky for landlords.

“We wanted to unify the house onboarding, stay, payment, and closure process by having the tenant, caretaker, and property owners interact on one platform conveniently, thereby saving time and money as well as guaranteeing the best residence experiences and business outcomes,” says Mr Kayanda.

With the cost of living crisis, new taxes being implemented, and rent and house prices fluctuating, landlords and tenants have come under significant pressure, and often end up pitted against each other.

“RentRahisi aims to lower property management costs by making it as easy as possible to manage properties. A single person can manage hundreds of properties,” add Mr Kayanda.

Having been tenants, the two friends who are in their mid-30s say they witnessed how tiresome the work of a landlord could be; moving up and down collecting rent, chasing after defaulters, and also staying on top of the property maintenance schedule.

The developers say that real estate can be an excellent investment, but managing a portfolio of rental properties can quickly become overwhelming.

“Property managers and landlords must find and screen tenants, collect rent, manage maintenance, and carefully track expenses and income.”

Generate statements

From the app, the landlords can see tenants with pending payments, generate and store gross and net-rent payment statements, and record their financials for real-time decision-making.

“RentRahisi works on the cloud via the web and as a mobile app. A property owner onboards tenants on our SAAS (Software as a Service) or their PAAS (Platform as a Service) from which they can manage their tenancy and payment as well as the entire aspect of their property business,” explains Mr Kayanda.

He adds that the integration of mobile money platforms such as M-Pesa with their SAAS account or PAAS app empowers tenants to pay rent on the go as well as interact with the caretaker from anywhere, anytime from the comfort of their phones.

“Property owners can collect rent and utilities faster if they integrate their SAAS accounts or PAAS app with their M-Pesa pay bill or till number as well as their Equity and Co-op accounts."

Automatic notification

"Once a payment notification from M-Pesa/bank is received, the app reconciles that with the tenant's account accordingly and notifies the payee [landlord] via SMS, the web, or their app account.

The tenants are also able to view and pay their rent and utility invoices via M-Pesa express, view receipts and messages, and message their caretaker or property manager,” says Mr Kayanda.

PAAS is on-demand access to a complete, ready-to-use, cloud-hosted platform for developing, running, maintaining, and managing applications. SAAS is on-demand access to ready-to-use, cloud-hosted application software.

“The SAAS is for leasing customers who want to use it from our platform. The PAAS is for customers who want to have its own hosted on their URLs and have it customised.”

Mr Kayanda says that if one activates collection by M-Pesa, rent is automatically collected and accounting is done by the system.

“M-Pesa collection encourages tenants to pay on time since they do not have to go to the bank. Collection can be by M-Pesa, bank, or cash. You can generate invoices for hundreds of tenants in seconds.”

Apart from the landlords’ admin account, the app has an option for a cashier, field officer, and caretaker accounts.

The cashier, for example, deals with billing and receipting when M-Pesa pay bill integrations are not activated whereas the field officer handles tenant placement, release, and receipts collection while the caretaker may handle automated entry of water utility readings.

The developers' first major contract came from Safaricom when they implemented PAAS with M-PESA pay bill introduction for a property owner in Ruiru with eight property blocks, cutting his operation costs by 70 percent and growing their rent collection to up to 95 percent.

60 percent cost savings

“At only Sh20,000 per year, RentRahisi cuts property management costs by up to 60 percent."

Some of the features that makes the app unique, he says, include an agency portal that empowers them to contract and dismiss collection agents based on performance.

For landlords with many tenants or multiple developments, the software comes with multiple computer-based user accounts to enable unified property management.

“To cut our customers' costs further and grow their incomes, we offer free SMS and M-Pesa customisation in their SAAS accounts, enabling them to communicate fast and receive payments in real-time. For customers looking to cut more costs and grow their income, we can sell the app software to them for lifetime use with a minimal feature and update fee,” says My Kayanda.

While digital payments have steadily taken over more transactions, boosted in recent years by the Covid-19 pandemic, there is one corner of commerce where paper still reigns supreme: the monthly rent check.

The app that started with just three active users has now grown to 18, comprising 12 SAAS accounts.

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