New website for tenants to rate landlords is 'exploding' in popularity, Ontario founder says
A person types on a laptop keyboard in North Andover, Mass. on June 19, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, /Elise Amendola
Published Thursday, April 27, 2023 9:15AM EDT
A website created by two Ontario residents offering tenants the chance to anonymously rate their landlords has received more than a thousand reviews since launching last week.
“Tenants are basically required to give a full-blown background check and a SIN number,” one of the two founders of the website, to whom CTV News Toronto has granted anonymity over safety concerns, said. “On the flip side, you have to go into tenancy agreements without knowing who you’re renting from."
It was this line of thought, paired with a “brutal” string of personal experiences renting in the city, that sparked the Toronto area resident to have the idea for a platform that allowed tenants to rate their landlords.
“You can rate your doctor or a restaurant, but for some reason, housing and landlords have been exempt from that,” they said. “It just felt natural.”
The only problem? They didn’t know how to build a website – so they turned to the internet. A call-out posted to Reddit soon introduced them to another Ontario resident with the skills to bring their vision to life.
The two operate on a volunteer basis and were only able to work on the project in their spare time, which is why it took them almost a year to put together, they said.
Ratethelandlord.org launched last week, offering tenants the chance to rate their landlords out of five on categories such as health and safety, respect, privacy, repairs, and stability. Users can also leave written reviews.
On its first day online, the site received 150 reviews, the founder said. Within the first week, 1,000 reviews had been submitted.
The unexpected engagement forced the creators to briefly take the platform down, they said, before relaunching it Thursday.
“It exploded,” they said. “We were not expecting it at all.”
At first, the platform was limited to tenants in Canada and the U.S., but since launching, the founders said they’ve been contacted by tenants’ unions in Australia and the United Kingdom asking to be included in the service – a request incorporated into the latest iteration of the site.
The reception has been, for the most part, positive, the site’s creator said. “But we do have people that think this is unfair in some way, or misunderstand what it is,” they added.
The founders underlined that they limit the amount of identifiable information published to a landlord's name and postal code area. They also want users to know that they encourage the submission of positive reviews, as they "better the system for everyone."
“Our goal is not to put anyone in a difficult situation,” they said. It’s no different than any other business – for every other thing we pay for, we can write a review.”