(L-R) Thomas Ashdown of Citylets and Rab Campbell of Wallet.Services
Citylets, the residential property rental portal, has teamed up with blockchain technology specialist Wallet.Services, headquartered at incubator CodeBase in Edinburgh, to offer what is thought to be the world’s first Blockchain-enabled private rented sector (PRS) database.
The number of households in the Scottish PRS has tripled since 1999 to 370k according to the most recent Scottish Household Survey.
The move by Citylets is in response to new Scottish PRS legislation which provides for local councils to apply to the Scottish Government to designate Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) within their Local Authority area.
The criteria by which any applications are to be made state that applications must be data-led, including market evidence that rent increases to tenants under the new Private Residential Tenancies introduced in December 2017 are excessive. Currently there is no relevant data on rent rises.
Wallet.Services has utilised its award-winning SICCAR product, developed in conjunction with Scottish Government, to implement the solution. The data is stored cryptographically allowing a higher degree of security and also means the data cannot be corrupted once entered from source by letting agents across Scotland.
Citylets founder Thomas 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, we anticipate this will become a resource for 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 a data transparency issue that has been thrown up by legislation passed in the Scottish Parliament. It improves trust and data quality on a matter that affects a significant minority of people in Scotland and that spans the public and private sectors.”
Mike Campbell, director of the Council of Letting Agents (the largest agent membership body in Scotland), said: “I welcome this exciting and important development which addresses the commonly identified problem around the lack of comprehensive and good data on rents in the PRS in Scotland. 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.’’
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