The New York Times' Ronda Kaysen looks at the trials and tribulations of Rentlogic, a company that seeks to grade landlords and buildings on a scale of A through F.
The start-up began about six months ago, tracking complaints and violations on 1.1 million multifamily buildings, about a third of which are rentals. And it partnered with Citi Habitats, a brokerage firm in New York City, which was met with swift backlash from owners and managers who say the data—which goes back seven years—is often outdated and flawed.
The partnership with Citi Habitats lasted all of eight days.
Landlords balked partly because Rentlogic tracks data for seven years — as long as a renter’s credit history — and a building might have been owned or managed by a different company when problems occurred.
“The actual information that they’re compiling is incorrect —- it’s simply not up-to-date,” said Paul Gottsegen, the president of Halstead Property Management (which, by the way, received mostly As). For example, a tenant might call 311 because the building has no hot water, but missing from that report is a back story where the super rushed to get a plumber on Thanksgiving.
Tenants have been staring at a one-way mirror for a long time. Rentlogic’s efforts to make the rental market less opaque have not been entirely thwarted — it continues to provide information about buildings and landlords across the city, along with some rental listings. But access to the vast Citi Habitats database would have provided renters with a central place to vet thousands of apartments as they become available.