Tech

Landlord app Naborly issues 'sorry, not sorry' response over April rent backlash

In a statement from CEO Dylan Lenz, the company claims the secret reporting on missed rent was meant to protect tenants. Unsurprisingly it will continue the practice.

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Yesterday, in the sort of dick move that makes Amazon look positively charitable when it comes to all things COVID-19, it emerged that Naborly is encouraging landlords to report tenants who failed to pay their rent for April. Today the company took to Twitter to issue a perfect non-apology.

“We deeply apologize if our message was misinterpreted to do anything other than help tenants and landlords in this unprecedented time,” the statement from founder and CEO, Dylan Lenz, reads. The statement further claims Naborly wants to “ensure that our service does not unfairly impact tenants in the future who have had their income or employment disrupted by this crisis,” but doesn’t do anything to explain how that will be the case.

Instead, we’re left feeling like Naborly’s entreaties to landlords could see tenants who’ve had their income suddenly evaporate prejudiced when it comes to securing accommodation long after the coronavirus is under control. As if tenants who suddenly can't pay their rent don't have enough problems.

The service favors landlords — Naborly’s original message to landlords read, “This database helps other landlords know in the future if a tenant has been delinquent in the past, while also helping Naborly continue to deliver the most accurate and up-to-date tenant screening service in the market. Please note that we keep reporting fully confidential and DO NOT notify your tenant that you have reported to our system.”

That’s a position that unambiguously favors landlords and discriminates against tenants. Even worse, tenants won’t even be notified that they’ve been flagged, meaning they could be denied future rentals without understanding why. We understand that many landlords have been left in a tight spot by the impact the spread of the coronavirus has had on incomes across the board, including theirs, but a service that lets them make it more difficult for tenants who may otherwise have been exemplary is impossible to reasonably support.

Naborly can try as hard as it likes to retroactively spin its secret rent reports by saying it was actually trying to help tenants, but without any substantive explanation for how tenants benefit from being narced on, we remain unconvinced.