Initiative Aims to Help Struggling Renters Overcome Barriers

A distressed woman sits at her kitchen table at a laptop holding and looking at bills.

© urbazon - E+ / Getty Images

Rental prices are rising and affordability has become a growing issue. Knock CRM, a customer relationship management system for multifamily property owners and managers, announced a Knocking Down Housing Barriers initiative to raise funds intended to help renters overturn denied applications due to low credit, income, and eviction history.

In 2021, the average cost of rent surged by 17.8%, outpacing inflation and wage increases as demand for rental units has remained high and vacancies low. The need for affordable rental housing is critical, Knock says.

“The multifamily industry has a duty to help solve these critical housing issues and help renters access the housing they need,” says Demetri Themelis, CEO of Knock. “While the vetting and screening processes still need to change to be more accessible to all, our hope is that the Knocking Down Housing Barriers initiative will help this reform by enabling more families to get approved for the housing they need.”

Knock is partnering with OneApp Guarantee, which serves as the co-signer for renters, and hopes to prevent as many as 10,000 families from being denied rental approvals with the initiative. Knock intends to raise $200,000 this year from employees, customers, partners, and the multifamily industry for the program. Knock, a homebuying and homeselling website, was selected for the 2021 REACH class, a technology accelerator program through Second Century Ventures, the strategic investment arm of the National Association of REALTORS®.

The most common approval barriers for renters are income, credit, eviction history, debt-to-income ratio, and lack of rental history. Many property management companies will allow the use of a co-signer to meet these requirements. However, less than 2% of renters apply with a co-signer, says OneApp Guarantee founder Tyrone Poole.

OneApp Guarantee will act as a co-signer on leases for those renters who would not otherwise qualify. The funds raised by Knock will allow OneApp to offer a payment plan option to take part in the service. This will allow renters to make smaller monthly payments until they cover the cost of the OneApp Guarantee fee. The raised funds also will go toward covering renters who fall behind on their payments and help avoid putting their lease at risk as they get back on track.

Poole says his company receives more than 1,000 denied renters per month who look to participate in the OneApp program. “Unfortunately, we are unable to overturn 80% of these denials because the applicants are unable to pay the full one-time fee required to guarantee our housing providers upfront,” Poole says. “Working with the Knocking Down Housing Barriers initiative, we’re able to launch a payment plan for these renters so they can pay the fee in installments.”

Learn more about the Knocking Down Housing Barriers initiative.