I rent, therefore I move house a lot; every 6, 12 or 24 months or so. Meaning each time I do move, I duplicate the same information and repeat the same tasks:

  • give my move out date
  • give my move in date
  • cancel my energy bills
  • cancel my water bill
  • cancel my council tax
  • tell my internet provider I’m moving
  • tell BBC to update my TV licence address
  • prove to my letting agent who I am
  • pay a deposit
  • do inventory
  • find where the gas and electric meters are in my new house
  • set up energy bills for my new house
  • set up water bills for my new house
  • find out who my new council is
  • set up council tax for my new house
  • prove to my new council who I am
  • work out my new commute costs
  • get a parking permit
  • get home insurance
  • update car insurance with my new address
  • find out what day the bins are collected
  • register to vote

Bizarrely, most of the effort of moving house is not moving my stuff, but moving my information.

Adding to the oddness, most of this effort involves trying to give someone else money. Why would someone make it hard for me to give them money?

Not to mention all the calls and late payments this faff and complication causes.

Surely the simpler I can do these tasks, the better. For everyone.

So here are some thoughts on how to make renting simpler:

  1. build nearly everything I am about to mention with a address register
  2. publish how often a property has new renters under the same landlord
  3. publish for each property the amount of deposit actually given back to renters. If not by landlords or letting agents, then by renters themselves
  4. do the same for internet speeds
  5. do the same again for things STILL broken or not working in a house
  6. have renters write and publish reviews of letting agents
  7. have DCLG make an open letting agents register from data in tenancy deposit protection schemes
  8. have Ofgem make an open energy suppliers register
  9. have Ofwat make an open water suppliers register
  10. have Ofcom make an open internet providers register
  11. record where energy meters are in a property. Perhaps when a letting agents takes the inventory or when you give someone a meter reading
  12. link these meter locations, ID numbers to energy supplier, water supplier, internet provider and address registers
  13. open the data of who sells and supplies to each address its gas, electricity, water and internet. This information is mostly private now; I think this is to protect suppliers rather than personal privacy
  14. link bin collection days to address and local council registers
  15. have renters, letting agents or landlords sign digital rent agreements
  16. verify once to these contracts you are who you say you are
  17. these contracts must be with someone they can trust with your data
  18. link these contracts to the address register
  19. now when these contracts are signed, you are emailed with your new bin collection days, commute costs, internet speeds, parking restrictions, unfixed repairs, who supplies your gas, electric, water, internet…
  20. give each property a URL with this information
  21. enable one-off permissions to share data through the digital contract to:
  22. set up billing with energy companies or switch to alternative ones
  23. same with internet providers
  24. same with your new council to:
  25. get parking permit
  26. register for council tax
  27. register to vote, so this doesn’t happen
  28. register with a GP
  29. update the address your car is registered to with DVLA
  30. update your TV licence address (Tony’s suggestion)
  31. buy car and home insurance based on your new address
  32. redirect your post with Royal Mail
  33. next link the expiry date in the contract to trigger your final bills getting issued
  34. these contracts should work as a data licence, where you can view, remove this data at any time
  35. ban admin fees, as they’ll be much less admin for letting agents to do (UPDATE — banned in 2019)
  36. remove the need for letting agents

In summary, API the shit out of renting. Remove waste. Add trust.

Thanks Sarah for lots of the suggestions on the list. And Carianne for proof reading.

We need to build more affordable places for people to live. While we wait for that to happen, let’s make renting of the internet. Let’s make renting simpler.

Head of Design, Made Tech, previously Red Cross, GDS, NHS

Head of Design, Made Tech, previously Red Cross, GDS, NHS