Nationwide Building Society announced its latest venturing fund investment in Bunk, a digital lettings agency. Bunk uses the latest technology, including Open Banking, to help improve the rental market for both landlords and renters – something the Society, which both represents landlords and tenants, has campaigned on.
The investment is the latest deal from the £50 million Venturing Fund set up just over a year ago to create partnerships enabling the Society and start-ups to share knowledge and expertise. As part of the fund, Nationwide is making strategic investments in early-stage startups exploring innovative products and services that could provide real benefits for the Society’s members in the future.
Tony Prestedge, Deputy Chief Executive at Nationwide Building Society, said “Nationwide is one of the biggest Buy-to-Let lenders in the UK and we have long campaigned to improve standards within the rental sector for both tenants and landlords. Bunk is combining the latest digital technology backed up with human service to not only offer a seamless digital experience but also reduce friction in the rental market between tenants and landlords. Many landlords choose to manage their portfolio on their own, the service that Bunk offers could support them, ensuring they’re on top of their obligations and providing a better service to their tenants. They are a natural fit for our Venturing Fund investment, which seeks to fund startups that are focussed on making people’s lives easier through smart insights and fair practice.”
Around half of all landlords choose to run their rental businesses on their own. In a market where regulations change frequently, landlords often need support in ensuring they comply with the rules. Bunk can automatically list a landlord’s property on reputable sites, verify tenants and provide peace of mind by verifying the landlord’s proof of ownership.
The service allows landlords to list a property within minutes, which can then be viewed on their website, app and major portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla. Bunk can make a landlord’s life easier by processing tenants’ references and completing the tenancy set up within the site. Once the properties are listed Bunk’s dashboard notifies them when a deposit and rent has been paid, saving the need to review current account statements. Bunk also allows tenants and landlords to correspond within the site, for ease of communication in rental enquiries and maintenance requests.
The platform offers prompts and smart insight to help landlords maintain their responsibilities and comply with regulation. For example, landlords are unable to take more than five weeks’ rent as a deposit and the system will not progress if they try to take more than this. Bunk has also partnered with Experian, so tenants who make regular rent payments on time will see this reflected in their credit file, something which starts to redress the balance between renters and homeowners.
Tom Woollard, CEO at Bunk, said “We want to build something the rental market has never seen before. Landlords are facing reduced margins coupled with increased regulation and there has never been a better time to make their lives easier through the use of technology. Bunk is there to make the process less stressful and more enjoyable for both renters and landlords. Bunk’s mission is to make renting work for everyone and we’re thrilled to have a partner like Nationwide backing our vision.”