London Startups Show the Bright Side of Mobile AI Technology

January 16, 2017 - 3 minutes read

London has a problem. It’s a problem that is probably familiar to anybody who’s rented an apartment in a major city: rising rents, obscure housing laws, and difficult landlord-tenant relations.

London app developers at RentersUnion might have a solution to this problem. And that solution comes in the for of a small, inconspicuous chatbot, with a twist—their product not only translates legalese to help renters understand the complex logic of their current or potential lease agreements, but also uses artificial intelligence to draft emails and contact landlords on a renter’s behalf, following best practices to handle transactions in a timely and legally safe manner.

The bot is specifically tailored to the London real estate market, with a comprehensive knowledge of local laws and regulation when it comes to apartment repairs, issues like mold or environmental damage, and insurance.

Normally, getting answers and resolutions for these kind of issues requires tenants to consult with property lawyers. As you can imagine, this can be prohibitively expensive, especially for the lower-income renters who need the most assistance to avoid falling through the cracks of the housing system. While mobile apps and chatbots can’t replace a lawyer in all circumstances, run-of-the-mill issues and questions are often repetitive and minor, allowing tech startups to potentially save clients huge amounts of money—and providing an important, socially-conscious service in the process.

Says RentersUnion co-founder Faisal Khalid, “if this works, we could actually end up becoming the largest housing lawyer in all of Europe—which creates a lot of interesting opportunities beyond just giving advice.”

For now, the small agile app development team is working to create an API and widget for embedding and integrating with existing charities and housing advocacy organizations, ensuring that their tool can reach as many real-world users as possible—not just the few who happen to think of “tech” when they think of “solutions for problems.”

Whether it scales into a business, a social justice organization, or both, RentersUnion is a great example of how mobile app developers in London are tackling tricky problems that brick-and-mortar solutions have struggled to solve. And they’re making life better for thousands of regular people while they’re at it.

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