Scottish Property Firm Citylets To Create Blockchain Database To Track Rent Changes

Blockchain, Innovation, News | September 5, 2018 By:

Scottish property firm Citylets is working with blockchain startup Wallet.Services to develop the first blockchain-enabled private rented sector (PRS) database.

Established in 1999, Citylets is Scotland’s certified portal for property to rent with up to 4 million site visitors per year and advertising c50,000 properties from over 400 agent offices. Its innovations, such as Optilet, allow agents and landlords to research Scottish rental values and trends and assist in the setting of optimal rents.

Wallet.Services streamline and secure digital life by accelerating the use and harnessing the benefits of blockchain. The company believes that blockchain’s transformative technology is the missing link needed to bring integrity and control to sensitive information. The company’s first solution, SICCAR, uses blockchain for cross-organizational collaboration.

The two companies is partnering to create a ledger that would tackle rising rents in Scotland’s residential sector. The partnership is in response to new Scottish PRS legislation which provides for local councils to apply to the Scottish government to designate Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ) within their local authority area. Under the new legislation, RPZ applications must be data-led, including market evidence that rent increases to tenants are excessive and causing them problems.

The planned PRS database will utilize the SICCAR blockchain platform, which streamlines and secures cross-organizational collaboration to protect data and the people and organizations that own it. The database will record rent changes faced by the tenants in Scotland. The collected data will be stored cryptographically to allow a higher degree of security.

Citylets believes that the PRS database will become a useful tool for local councils applying to the Scottish ministers to have their area designated as a rent pressure zone, for it will provide the relevant information procured from the letting agents.

“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,” Citylets founder Thomas Ashdown said. “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 that the 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,” Campbell said.

The Council of Letting Agents, the largest agent membership body in Scotland, calls the project an 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,” Mike Campbell, director of the Council of Letting Agents.