Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Been to Apartment Hell and Back? A New Start-Up, Cozy, Wants to Simplify Renting.

If you’ve ever rented an apartment in certain metro areas, like New York and San Francisco, you’ve probably had a less-than-enjoyable experience. Even if you’ve found a reasonably-priced apartment, you might still have to compete with dozens of other applicants and file reams of paperwork.


That was what inspired the co-founders of Cozy, a new company that aims to take at least some of the friction out of apartment rentals. Cozy has been in the works since October, and is coming out of beta mode today.

Cozy’s main function is that of a rent-payment processor. Residential landlords pay $9 a month per unit to join Cozy and receive auto-payments each month from tenants’ bank accounts. There are no additional fees stacked on top of the monthly cost.

On the flip side, renters can access Cozy for free, and can create a personal profile that could help expedite the apartment application process. A renter’s profile could, for example, include credit scores, employment validation (like a LinkedIn account) and income information, and show references or testimonials from previous landlords.

So, instead of filling out piles of paperwork for each apartment, a renter could tell a potential landlord to look him or her up on Cozy — provided the landlord is familiar with or using the site.

Cozy is available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. — in total, about 330 different markets. It was created by entrepreneurs Gino Zahnd and John Bragg, and so far has been seed-funded by some well-known names in tech, including the Social+Capital Partnership, Kevin Rose at Google Ventures, Gary Vaynerchuk and Jason Calacanis.

Cozy’s goal is very specific right now — it’s for renter profiles, rental applications and monthly payments only. It’s targeting smaller residential buildings, not big property management companies that oversee lots of high-rise buildings (many of which already use online rent-payment systems). Cozy doesn’t list apartments, so you’ll still spend a fair amount of your time on Craigslist. And it doesn’t process payments for other incidentals, like maintenance, or a lost-key fee, or even security deposits. Zahnd says additional payment features are in the works.

While mobile apps are also in the works, which are super helpful for apartment-seekers on the go, Cozy is currently Web-only.

(Feature photo courtesy of dorkyspice/Flickr Creative Commons.)

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus