LATEST NEWS

Landlords Use Sneaky Spyware To Judge Potential Tenants

As the market intensifies, the race for space makes landlords more choosy—and sneaky.

By Archana Aithal Rose September 19, 2016

Ever opened your Facebook page after a night of debauchery or Vegas-style partying, and reflect in complete horror on your bad judgement? Unless you’re living under a rock or are Amish, that’s probably happened to you at least once. Our social media posts may have killed our chances for that promotion, ruined a friendship or just horrified your mom. Now, this cyber map of your life might just be keeping you from scoring that perfect apartment thanks to tactile tenant screening. So if you’re considering that third gimlet on a Friday night, put it down—the landlord mafia has eyes on you.

Related: Want to Live In NYC Rent Free? Here’s Five Ways To Become A Professional House Sitter

Early June of this year, the Washington Post wrote about an alarming new software called Tenant Assured that runs a fine toothcomb through tenants’ social media accounts to collect comprehensive data and assess risk scores. The start-up claims that their surveillance algorithms equip landlords with a potential tenant’s social media activity like bar check-ins, financial portfolios, and even if they’re new to the country. The software tracks the tenant’s search history, so if your repeated keywords on Google are words like poor, loan and pregnant, you’re probably not lush tenant material. Makes you wonder if pregnant and poor are correlated—but what the data essentially does is help landlords weed out risky tenants.

It may have gotten a lot of flak for being misinforming, invasive and discriminatory, but the most disturbing outcome of this technology is how it encourage prejudice against immigrants and favors gentrification. How does this work in a highly immigrant-concentrated and class-diversified city like New York? Of course, Tenant Assured is only the tip of the iceberg, surveillance options for landlords run deep. Toronto-based Naborly has analyzed more than one million renters across North America and its algorithms are apparently tactile at evaluating eviction chances and late rent payments. All this tech-profiting software complements the already existing traditional screening systems.

Hidden cameras have long been deployed to spy on tenants—and it a’int pretty. In fact, it’s a rather common practice in low-income and mixed-income units and housing projects. But as gentrification continues to grow, renters everywhere will unanimously be subjected to profiling. In Washington, the misuse of data to screen tenants has created an outrage amongst tenants unions. What’s worrying in the face of this technological advancement is its inaccuracy. Algorithms, like human beings, are flawed. The profile they create is limited to the information it’s been fed, leaving a lot of room for interpretation and personal bias. Also, while this method lacks total transparency, tenants have no idea what data has been provided for them to even deny it. Steve Thornhill, co-founder of the British start-up Score Assured that patented Rent Assured told Washington Post, “If you’re living a normal life, then you have nothing to worry about.” Then again, doesn’t everyone’s normal differ substantially?

Archana Aithal Rose

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Archana Aithal Rose

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Archana Aithal Rose

Archana Aithal Rose’s articles have appeared in The Times of India, CNNGo, Condé Nast Traveler and Vogue, covering such broad range of topics as fashion, art, travel, culture, celebrities, architecture and technology. In addition to writing, Archana's also known for her mad photography and cooking skills.

  • AGORAFY
    Avocado toasts are the reason why millennials can’t afford a home, says one Australian real estate developer. #AvocadoToast #Millennials https://goo.gl/TBCPnv
  • AGORAFY
    Five years on since Superstorm Sandy, Queens’ coastal peninsula is in the midst of a development boom. #Development #Rockaways https://goo.gl/BRKRrD
  • AGORAFY
    It turns out, renters can’t get enough of good ol’ no-doorman-no-frills apartments. Too bad developers aren’t building any. #Doorman #LuxuryRentals https://goo.gl/pdnbo6
The Housing Market In Shenzhen, The Silicon Valley of China, Slows In 2017
The city of Shenzhen has been on the real estate radar for quite some time. It is known as the Silicon Valley of China. Many…
Developers Jump Aboard The Trend To Revamp Transit Hubs And Remake Cities
Never has the often used marketing term, “close to transportation” been more important when attracting home buyers. These days it’s not just homes that are…
Millennials Are Fueling The Current Sizzling Real Estate Market
Ever wondered why the hosts of home improvement shows seem to be getting progressively younger, along with the fresh-faced couples getting their new properties made…
The Best Cities For Recent Grads To Rent – Without Blowing Their Entire Paycheck
What’s next post graduation? For most, the logical answer is to find a job. After the excitement of finishing your studies and the big celebration,…
Luxury Knows No Limit In Malaysia As A Deluge Of New Developments Hit The Market
The amount of newly constructed high-end real estate in Malaysia is almost as abundant as the lush vegetation which covers the tropical landscape. Despite vacant…
Don’t Call It A Commune – Upscale Co-Living Is Attracting Major Development
What may have once been referred to as a commune is today termed a co-living space. The big news that it’s not hippies with hemp…
It’s Official—New York Is Now The Most Expensive City In The World To Build
As if you didn’t already know, it’s expensive to build in New York City. Not just expensive but now officially the most expensive place in…
An Ultimate Destination For The Most Comprehensive Real Estate Data, Agorafy Prepares To Launch Nationwide
In the coming days, Agorafy will be entering a new chapter. It is the beginning of a new growth cycle in real estate technology with…

TOP 10