Nationwide Building Society has invested in Bunk, a new digital lettings agency.
Bunk was set up by three students, Tom Woollard, Jack Widnell and Harry Stirling, when in their last year of university. They were sitting their finals while simultaneously trying to raise funding. Its online app launched on June 1 this year.
Nationwide, whose charitable arm Nationwide Foundation used to bankroll Generation Rent, would not disclose how much it has invested in Bunk, but yesterday told EYE it now holds a minority stake.
Nationwide described its backing as helping do-it-yourself landlords.
Bunk’s PR company Properganda has described Bunk as an “an all in one property app that empowers landlords and tenants with the tools to rent without the need for a letting agent”.
Bunk lists on both Rightmove and Zoopla.
Bunk describes itself on its site as the future of renting, and offers let and management services from £10 per month.
Nationwide’s investment comes from its £50m Venturing Fund, described as making strategic investments into innovative goods and services that could benefit Nationwide’s members in future.
Nationwide said: “Around half of all landlords choose to run their rental businesses on their own.
“In a market where regulations change frequently, landlords often need support in ensuring they comply with the rules.
“Bunk can automatically list a landlord’s property on reputable sites, verify tenants as well as providing peace of mind to tenants by verifying the landlord proof of ownership.
“The service allows landlords to list a property within minutes, which can then be viewed by potential tenants on their website and app as well as on major portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla.”
Bunk also allows tenants and landlords to correspond within the site, so enquiries such as expressing an interest in renting a property and maintenance requests will go directly to them.
Tony Prestedge, Nationwide’s deputy chief executive, said: “Nationwide is one of the biggest buy-to-let lenders in the UK and we have long campaigned to improve standards within the rental sector for both tenants and landlords.
“Bunk is combining the latest digital technology backed up with human service to not only offer a seamless digital experience but also reduce friction in the rental market between tenants and landlords.
“Many landlords choose to manage their portfolio on their own. The service that Bunk offers could support them, ensuring they’re on top of their obligations and providing a better service to their tenants.
“They are a natural fit for our Venturing Fund investment, which seeks to fund start-ups that are focused on making people’s lives easier through smart insights and fair practice.”
Tom Woollard, CEO at Bunk, said: “We want to build something the rental market has never seen before. Landlords are facing reduced margins coupled with increased regulation and there has never been a better time to make their lives easier through the use of technology.
“Bunk is there to make the process less stressful and more enjoyable for both renters and landlords.
“Bunk’s mission is to make renting work for everyone and we’re thrilled to have a partner like Nationwide backing our vision.”
Bunk is Bristol-based but aims to cover the UK and has 14 staff. Yesterday it had 16 properties on Rightmove.