A Vancouver-based software development studio is launching a new app designed to help residents search for a safe apartment to rent.
The goal of Vancouver RentalDog, according to one of its creators, Louis Lapprend, is to help people access the information in the city’s rental standards database on their mobile phone while they are searching for a place to rent. This can help them to steer clear of properties with a bad safety record, he said.
“You’re looking at the place, there are signs for rent, but you don’t know what it’s like inside,” Lapprend told the Straight by phone. “It’s always tricky renting out a place, because a landlord is highly unlikely to ever say, 'oh by the way, this place is pretty dangerous'.”
The city’s database lists outstanding bylaw infractions in all licensed rental buildings with five or more residential units, and those with bylaw issues that have been resolved within the past year.
Types of bylaw infractions that will be listed through the new app include unresolved issues related to fire safety, building safety, untidy premises, and standards of maintenance, such as pest infestation and malfunctioning smoke alarms. Users will also be able to view property addresses and names of landlords.
Lapprend noted the app features a map that will show the properties closest to the user’s location.
“Whenever you start the app, you see in your immediate neighbourhood what the places are like,” he said.
This is the first app that CloudGraf Studios, which was founded in 2013, has created. Lapprend said the idea came about at the city’s open data “hackathon” last March.
“It was a good opportunity for us to put our skills together to code a map-based app, and for us to contribute to the ecology of the city by trying to help low-income tenants avoid the bad places,” he stated.
The app is officially being launched Thursday (December 12). The iPhone and iPad app is free and is available for download through the iTunes store.