Scottish rentals portal Citylets has adopted blockchain technology – a secure system of transmitting and holding information – to help agents and local authorities track and store data on rents.
It has teamed up with blockchain technology specialists Wallet.Services to build what is thought to be the first blockchain-enabled private rented sector (PRS) database worldwide.
Letting agents in Scotland will be able to contribute data to and receive analysis of mid-tenancy rent changes through the platform.
Thomas Ashdown, founder of Citylets, said the system has been built in response to new Scottish PRS legislation which lets local councils apply to the Scottish Government to designate all or any part of their local authority area as a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) and introduce caps on rent increases.
Applications to create an RPZ must be data-led including market evidence that rent increases to tenants are excessive, so the blockchain system will showcase this data and provide a secure way for it to be stored and accessed.
The data is stored cryptographically, allowing a higher degree of security once entered from source by letting agents across Scotland.
Ashdown said: “The key here is trust.
“We are a private company looking to create a ledger of the rent changes experienced by the tenants of Scotland that can be utilised by all stakeholders within the private and public sectors.
“Ultimately, this will become a resource both for the lettings industry and local councils who have new powers to apply for rent pressure zones but lack the data to underpin applications to the Scottish Government.
“Blockchain tech was chosen to put the dataset beyond reproach. It is a highly secure, immutable technology.”
Rab Campbell, chairman of Wallet.Services, said: “We are delighted to be working with such a progressive company as Citylets. Thomas understands that a new paradigm of trust is emerging in our digital world.
“This project addresses an issue thrown up by legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament. It improves trust and data quality on an important matter that spans the public and private sectors.”
Mike Campbell, director of the Council of Letting Agents, welcomed the new system, stating it would “address the commonly identified problem around the lack of comprehensive and good data on rents in the PRS in Scotland.”
He said: “With the prospect of RPZs on the horizon and the ongoing debate around affordability and role the PRS plays in the housing system as a whole, it’s more important than ever that this happens on an informed and agreed basis.”