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Canopy builds new tech to help renters affected by Covid

Rental fintech Canopy has used a UK Research and Innovation grant to create new technology to help renters get on the market.

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Chris Hutchinson/Canopy.

Digital rental platform Canopy is helping renters get on the property ladder after the pandemic with new technology.

The company received a grant from UK Research and Innovation last year to improve referencing prospects for people whose income was affected by Covid.

Canopy has now used the grant to build technology that will potentially help these people back onto the market.

“The pandemic has been a tough time for everyone, and renters are no different,” Canopy CEO Chris Hutchinson said.

“Many have found themselves unable to secure a property due to the complications [that] the pandemic and multiple lockdowns placed on their finances.”

Hutchinson explained that many were deemed unable to provide the necessary funds to rent according to standard affordability checks, a vital part of securing a rental property.

These checks are typically carried out using three months of payslips to prove a prospective tenant has a sustainable income.

However, the pandemic made this difficult for many, particularly self-employed workers, and people impacted by furlough, whose incomes were often reduced or stopped completely. 

As a result, unprecedented numbers of renters were not able to move properties, even if they were financially able to do so, and many others could not get on the rental ladder at all.

Canopy’s new technology uses an algorithm to reflect an underlying affordability score that factors in both covid and the likelihood that their income will recover after the pandemic.

This will provide a more complex overview of a potential renters’ finances in comparison to the traditional affordability checks and will sit alongside it when renters approach estate agents or landlords.

“An individual’s finances aren’t always black and white, so with this new technology we can establish what any grey areas mean and allow both renters and landlords to have a fuller picture,” Hutchinson added.

Landlords who may not be able to trust whether a renter’s most recent income payment is a predictor of whether or not they can pay rent, were also put in a precarious position.

Canopy’s technology should be able to alleviate some of this uncertainty for both landlords and renters by identifying those whose incomes have been impacted by the pandemic.

That could be through grants, being placed on furlough, or gig-economy workers who were not able to work often.

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