RentShare Adds Handybook to its Web Platform for Splitting Living Expenses

3/25/13Follow @jpruth

Sharing rent and other expenses with roommates can create more than a few headaches for urbanites, so it’s no wonder that two startups have combined their services to chase this market.

New York’s RentShare recently integrated on its website Handybook’s online service for booking handymen, maids, plumbers, and other services. Handybook is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in Boston where it was founded.

RentShare lets users pay and split rent, as well as other monthly expenses, online with their roommates. The software sends payments on behalf of the users even if their landlords are not signed up with the service. The addition of Handybook’s services is one way the company is trying to differentiate itself in a sector peppered with apps and Web platforms for people looking to sort out payments.

Splitwise, a Providence, RI-based company, developed an app for divvying up who owes what on shared bills. Braintree-owned Venmo in New York created an app that lets users share funds and send payments among friends. Other services, including banks, let people pay rent online. But CEO Ian Halpern believes RentShare stands out by combining sharing and rent payments in one platform.

“The biggest expense you share is rent,” he says. “Those apps don’t let you share payment of your rent and send it to the landlord.”

Halpern says, in addition to offering Handybook service, his company plans to introduce more features to the platform that roommates, as well as individual renters, can use to simplify their lives. “We’re looking into helping users find utility providers, cable, and Internet services,” he says. His company, founded in 2011, also plans to add features such as searching for new residences, finding movers, moving trucks, and rental insurance.

RentShare is available across the country and Halpern says the company has users in about 23 states, mostly serving urban centers with dense populations of renters.

New York—not surprisingly—boasts the largest adoption of the service followed by Washington, D.C. “New York is packed with young professionals just out of college,” he says. “The percentage of people who rent versus own here is much greater than other cities.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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