One Firm’s Simple Idea to Make Rents More Affordable: No Deposit

One start-up is allowing renters to pay a small monthly insurance policy in lie of a security deposit.

(Bloomberg)—How do you make rental housing more affordable?

As policy makers nationwide search for an answer — tinkering with proposals ranging from comprehensive rent control to rezoning — one start-up has put to work an idea that makes things cheaper immediately: eliminate the security deposit.

Entrepreneur Ankur Jain, a millennial whose venture capital firm aims to alleviate the financial crunches saddling his generation, is the co-founder of Rhino, a company that allows renters to pay as little as $2 a month for an insurance policy that can be used in lieu of a security deposit.

Landlords including Starwood Capital Group, UDR Inc. and Moinian Group have already signed on to use the insurance, offering the option to tenants in major metros such as New York City. Nationwide, about 300,000 tenants are currently using a Rhino policy instead of a deposit, Jain said.

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