Are you visiting from Canada? Please read this.

Automate your rental properties.

The newest member of Team Cozy: Dave Handlong

Written on: April 9, 2014 by:

This week Team Cozy increased our Design resources by 100% with the addition of Dave Handlong. Dave joins us after spending half of the last decade with FINE Design Group, where he worked on visual design, brand and UX for a wide array of client apps and projects.

Like several other Cozyans, Dave came to Portland from San Francisco. He’s originally Arizonan, though in the past few years has definitely soaked up Portland’s culture, occupying his time with bikes, live music, beer, and all the outdoor opportunities the Great Northwest offers.

Dave’s design work will have impact across all of Cozy’s product and marketing efforts. We’re stoked to have him! He’s @birdbeard on Twitter.

A recent attempted scam in Canada

Written on: April 7, 2014 by:

This past Sunday we noticed a big traffic spike from Canada, and it turns out there’s a person going by the name of “Chris Rodier” attempting to scam people into giving him bank account information. In previous scams, this individual has also used the names “David Piatek” and “David Eisler.” He has used fake passports and letterhead from rental companies in most of the cases.

First, I want to thank everyone who has signed up for Cozy in Canada. You have my assurance that while we fully intend to someday do business in Canada, our services are currently only based in the U.S.. We do not operate in Canada, nor do we work with any third parties in Canada or any other country.

If you found Cozy based on any advertisements for landlords with homes in Canadian cities, they are almost certainly scams. Otherwise, if you have any questions whatsoever, please email us at support@cozy.co. We’re quick to respond.

-Gino
CEO at Cozy

The newest member of Team Cozy: Ashton McCrate

Written on: March 12, 2014 by:

This week Team Cozy gained Ashton McCrate as our newest developer. She joins us after a stint at NYC’s Hacker School, and Saturday Academy in Portland before that.

Ashton is Cozy’s resident Law and Order (the original, Criminal Intent, and Special Victims Unit) expert. She has, in fact, seen almost every episode that exists. Another little known fact: she was coerced into being in a beauty pageant in middle school, and rebelled by dancing to Renegade, by Styx, for the talent portion. We haven’t yet gotten her to give a repeat performance at Cozy, but these are early days.

Ashton will be working to improve internal tools that help us provide amazing customer service. She’ll also be an integral part of our Support team so that we can continue to provide the best support in the industry.

Welcome, Ashton!

Who uses Cozy? Entity Capital LLC in NYC & Florida

Written on: March 7, 2014 by:

“Who uses Cozy?” is our series spotlighting landlords and renters who use Cozy in interesting and innovative ways. In this edition, we talk to Nick, Tyler and Devin of Entity Capital.

Where is home?  What’s the most interesting thing about where you live?

The three of us are spread out across Manhattan – Nick is down in the East Village, Tyler on the West Side just below Central Park, and Devin on the Upper East Side.

What’s the most interesting thing about NYC?…where to start! We would have to say the food. It’s hard to live here and not learn to appreciate food. Eating in New York can be an adventure, from trying new restaurants, new cuisines, visiting new parts of town you’ve never been to and making friends with restaurant owners. And considering most apartments have kitchens the size of a closet, there’s even more incentive to get out and explore. We’ve each moved around a few times, and it’s always fun to find a new favorite sushi spot, burger joint, or bagel shop in the neighborhood.

 

How many rentals do you have, and where are they located?

Tyler Herbert
Nick Frost

We have one three-bedroom rental in DeLand, Florida. DeLand is a small, historic town located half-way between Orlando and Daytona Beach in Central Florida that is home to Stetson University, where Tyler and Nick attended and played soccer. Stetson is Florida’s oldest private university and has about 2,500 undergraduates. DeLand has also been called the “skydiving capital of the world.” Sometimes during soccer training we would look up and see dozens of skydivers falling out of the sky above us! We actually had a group of skydive instructors apply to rent the property.

How did you get into rental properties?

It started back in college. Underclassmen at Stetson were required to live on campus, but the university couldn’t stop you from living in your own home. So Tyler and his parents built a four-bedroom home about three miles from campus that he and his older brother lived in for a few years. Nick also lived in the house (and paid rent to Tyler!) his senior year. Tyler’s family built two more homes in the neighborhood which were all rented to Stetson students and soccer coaches.

Fast-forward 10 years…Nick, Tyler and Devin started Entity Capital, LLC (“N, T, D”…cheesy, we know) in the spring of 2013 to invest in rental properties in the Central Florida region (initially Deland). Real estate in and around New York City is obviously expensive, so we figured we would target another market that we knew well and where we could build our portfolio of rental properties for a fraction of the cost. Stetson also had ambitious plans to significantly increase enrollment in the coming decade which we felt would also be supportive of a strong off-campus student housing market. We did our homework and had a long list of properties we looked at last spring, but we found that it made more sense to build. So we broke ground in the summer and our first property was completed this past December.

What’s the average number of tenants in your properties?

Two.

What tools do you use to manage your properties?

We use Dropbox to store and share our financial models, lease agreements, legal documents, prospective property searches, etc. Since we would be out-of-town landlords and managing our properties remotely, and we all have jobs in finance that are very demanding on our schedules, we needed tools that would help us maximize efficiency and stay organized. We share the economics of the business equally, and decided that we all wanted to be involved with each decision in this learning phase. But we found out that sending emails and texts back and forth was a haphazard way to delegate tasks and keep on top of assignments. So we just started to use an app called Trello that allows us to stay better organized and keep track of projects we are working on.

What’s the single largest change to how you manage your rentals after using Cozy?

We can’t really say anything has changed after using Cozy because we’ve been using it from the start. Since we built a brand-new property, maintenance requests should be very limited (knock on wood!). We figured the majority of our tenant interaction would revolve around the initial screening process and then rent collection. We needed a product that would allow us to manage both these processes remotely, and Cozy fit the bill. As entrepreneurs ourselves, it was important to us to support a startup and be a part of that community, too.

What’s the craziest/funniest tenant story you can tell?

Devin Dadigan

We can’t claim to have a crazy tenant story just yet, but the story of our current tenant is something we take pride in. When we began advertising the property for rent in December, we got interest from Stetson students and the skydivers like we mentioned, but our first prospective tenant was a self-employed plumber. Tyler was in Florida to get the house ready and show the property in December and was impressed when he met him. Once we started a dialogue, heard more about his story, and his references checked out, we were more comfortable. To reduce our risk, we asked for first, second, and last month’s rent up front and only signed him to a six-month lease (in Florida a lease term must be at least six months in order to be exempt from sales tax. Source: Landlordology). Because we were professional and honest with him regarding our concerns and were willing to work with his timeline, he was extremely appreciative. He even takes care of the lawn and landscaping himself (reducing our expenses) and he has already asked us if he can upgrade the toilets and install a water softener, all on his dime! It’s still too early to chalk it up as a win, but so far we’re extremely happy with the relationship – he’s been a great tenant.

What’s your goal with your rental business?

Our goal is to continue to build a portfolio of rental properties that provide sustainable cash-on-cash yields of at least 8%-10%. We’d like to have at least three additional properties by the start of the fall semester and finish 2014 with five properties under management. Right now we are using our own capital, but we are in the process of exploring other ways to bring on investment partners to accelerate our growth.

We are also very focused on creating a strong brand in the DeLand rental market. We want to differentiate ourselves by providing a professional rental experience for our tenants that utilizes technology to reduce landlord/tenant friction. And of course Cozy is a key facet in providing that service!

Introducing Cozy Credit Reports

Written on: February 11, 2014 by:

Today we launched Cozy Credit Reports – a huge step toward fundamentally changing how credit data is purchased, controlled and used.

Renters are empowered for the first time.

Security, privacy and control
With Cozy Credit Reports, you never have to share your Social Security Number or Tax ID Number with a potential landlord again. You pay for your report. You get the results. You share the results. You control who sees your report, and who doesn’t.

The end of application fees
The application fee is a ridiculous concept, and it’s high time we squash it. If a Cozy landlord ever requires your credit report as part of the application, you’ll simply pay for and obtain your own report, then you can choose to share the results. If a potential landlord doesn’t require a credit report, there’s nothing to pay.

Landlords, say goodbye to the burden of handling and storing sensitive tenant information.

The most common thing we hear from landlords regarding tenant screening is, “I dread handling and storing someone else’s private information.” And that’s the good, honest landlords – there are cases of identity theft in the news nearly every day.

Cozy Credit Reports alleviate the burden of handling sensitive data. The report comes securely and directly from Experian in real time, so you can rest easy that you’re getting the most accurate data in the industry. We take care of the rest.

It’s that simple. It’s integrated. It’s part of your Cozy subscription.

Cozy + Experian: making the world better.

Since day 1, we’ve been hyper-focused on fundamentally improving the landlord-tenant relationship. Before today, that relationship started with a renter handing a potential landlord a paper application with everything needed for identity theft, plus a pointless application fee that the landlord could use for whatever purpose they chose. In competitive markets renters often go through the process three or four or even a dozen times before they land a place to live. (We know one renter in NYC who spent $3400 on application fees alone!) Those days are gone, and we’re excited to be the company changing how the industry and the process works.

We approached Experian 20 months ago with our idea to completely rethink how the tenant credit report process should work. With our design leadership, they have been an amazing and supportive development partner. The empowerment and security we’ve given renters and landlords with Cozy Credit Reports is just the beginning of a massive set of change.

Together, we have not only created this first version of Cozy Credit Reports, but Experian has also released the API that we created together. It’s available to anyone – including Cozy competitors.

We’re in this to change how the world works, and are excited to see innovative ways that other companies use what we’ve created with Experian. It’s a huge market, so let’s make it better together.

If you’re a landlord, you can sign up for Cozy right here. You can also learn more about what to look for in a tenant credit report in this Landlordology article.

If you’re a renter, you should invite your landlord to use Cozy!

Who uses Cozy? Lance in Union City, CA

Written on: February 6, 2014 by:

“Who uses Cozy?” is our series spotlighting landlords and renters who use Cozy in interesting and innovative ways. In this edition, we talk to Lance, who also happens to be on our homepage from time to time. (All the people featured on our site are Cozy customers.)

Where is home? What’s the most interesting thing about where you live?
My family and I live in Union City in the East Bay Area. It’s a fantastic location– a quick train ride to Silicon Valley, a 20 minute shuttle to Palo Alto and a relaxing BART ride to San Francisco! I can work just about anywhere in the Bay Area and have a reasonable commute. Housing is affordable and the people are nice– it’s the Bay Area’s best kept secret.

How many rentals do you have, and where are they located?
My wife Tina and I currently have two rentals, and they’re both in Union City. When we were shopping for investment properties, we had considered Patterson, Antioch, Brentwood, Modesto and a bunch of other areas where our dollar could buy more, but we decided to pay a bit more, so that managing the properties would be easier. Now, when something goes wrong at any of our properties, it’s just a four minute drive. The time and money saved was well worth the initial investment.

How did you get into rental properties?
There are just some things that you just learn by watching your parents. They always had rental properties, so I just kind of figured it’s something you did. After we purchased our first home, we starting saving up to buy another. We didn’t really have a plan– we just started saving money and kept an eye key economic indicators like home prices and interest rates. Once everything seemed right, we had the cash, and that cash gave us options.

What’s the average number of tenants in your properties?
Five.

What tools do you use to manage your properties?
Aside from Cozy, which handles all of the tasks related to financial transactions, I tend to use a few different iPhone apps. The app I have been using the most lately is Redbeacon. This app, which is affiliated with Home Depot, is brilliant. A few months back, I was in Philadelphia on a business trip, and my tenants informed me that the water heater wasn’t working. I fired up Redbeacon and described my issue. Within a couple of hours, I had five bids. I reviewed their reputation ratings, their license and background checks, their prices and their comments. I was able to make a decision and connect the plumber with my tenants. The next day, I got confirmation that the water heater was installed, and I took out my iPhone and paid the plumber with my credit card on file– easy as pie!

What’s the single largest change to how you manage your rentals after using Cozy for six months?
I know that it sounds like a little thing, but depositing checks is one of those things that sometimes gets left behind in my daily routine. Even though it’s simple enough to deposit it with my iPhone, it’s just one of those things that stays in my inbox way too long. I think that one time, I left the check in my inbox for 25 days! That’s not very considerate to my tenants, and I felt so guilty when I found it. Now that both sets of tenants are on Cozy, rent collection is one less thing on my list. It’s also easier on my tenants, because they don’t have to take a trip to my house to give us the rent. Everybody wins!

What’s the craziest/funniest tenant story you can tell?
So, I am going to be a bit of a downer on this one. The truth is, there is nothing crazy or funny about being a landlord. When I deal in real estate, I’m all business. In the short time I’ve been a landlord, I can see the importance of the shelter that my business is providing. I have families that are growing and kids developing. Families go through their ups and downs and are making the memories they will carry for a lifetime. When the kids grow up and return to the old neighborhood, they will be able to drive by the house and reminiscing. I just kind of feel like it’s my job to run a tight ship. If something is broken, it’s fixed immediately. If an issue with the neighborhood arises, I am on the phone with the city or the mayor the next day. I have a single mission– to make my tenants LOVE their home. It’s a mission and a responsibility I take very seriously.

What’s your goal with your rental business?
First and foremost it’s to provide my tenants with the highest quality rental experience imaginable. In addition to the things that I mentioned above, I want to delight them with small touches that really make a difference. I plan to install an electrical outlet that has a built in USB charger– right where they charge their phones. I am also in the exploratory phases of completely outfitting the houses with a Smart Things home automation system. It might be a small investment that could reap huge returns in terms of tenant retention and overall satisfaction. The details matter. Assuming that I do that well, I will have happy tenants that will continue to pay their rent, so that the rentals can provide Tina and I with a steady income when I decide to retire.

Portrait of an American Landlord

Written on: January 20, 2014 by:

As of December 6th, 2013, Cozy was officially 6 months old. Over that time we have watched our customer base grow, and pretty quickly at that. As we watched Cozy being used by more and more people, we started to see some very interesting data trends. After analyzing what we were seeing, we reached out to 3,200 of the landlords using Cozy and asked them a few questions to delve a little further into their lives. Below is some of what we found, in an infographic we’re calling, “Portrait of an American Landlord.”

portrait of an american landlord

Cozy has acquired Landlordology

Written on: January 7, 2014 by:

It’s true! Cozy has acquired Landlordology.

Founded by Lucas Hall in January 2013, Landlordology provides helpful guides, practical advice and useful resources for do-it-yourself Landlords and residential Property Managers – especially those with 50 rental units or less. The real-world expertise that Landlordology brings to Cozy’s service offerings provides essential rental information and practical know-how, and makes Cozy an even more uniquely valuable resource for landlords and tenants.

We met Lucas shortly after we announced our beta back in October of 2012. Since then we’ve kept in touch on various topics, and over time it became perfectly clear that both Cozy and Landlordology share the unwavering goal to provide simple tools of the highest quality to both landlords and renters. We’ve been working individually to make a stressful process enjoyable. Together, we’re going to be able to accomplish so much more.

Lucas now joins Team Cozy as our Community Manager (he’s #19 on Team Cozy!), and will lead the charge on expanding Landlordology offerings as well as lots of exciting things we’ll announce in the near future. We’re super stoked about what’s coming in 2014!

Welcome, Lucas!

Keep in touch with Landlordology

@Landlordology on Twitter.

Like Landlordology on Facebook

Sign up for the Landlordology newsletter.

The Newest Member of Team Cozy:
Matt Greensmith

Written on: January 6, 2014 by:

Our DevOps team is now two strong! Matt Greensmith joins Team Cozy next week as our first Canadian citizen, our second employee from another land, our second Matt, and our sole helicopter pilot and high school robotics mentor. He’ll be helping us take a more methodical approach to our growing infrastructure as well as help us scale, automate and secure everything we do at Cozy.

He’s @mgreensmith on Twitter. Welcome aboard, Matt!

Matt Greensmith

The Newest Member of Team Cozy:
Jared Moran

Written on: by:

Jared Moran has joined Team Cozy as our newest front-end developer. He joins us after a long stint at Portland-based Instrument, where he built all manner of products and sites for their clients.

We’re looking forward to Jared’s impact on Cozy’s desktop, mobile and tablet interfaces in the coming years!

He’s @jaredmoran on Twitter. Ask him about his favorite metal band.

Jared Moran

But secretly:

Jared Moran

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