REGINA -- A Regina landlord is helping launch a tech start-up aimed at connecting tenants with landlords after dealing with damaged property from a tenant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrew Tait was left with around $10,000 in damages to a rental property he owns in North Regina after a tenant of two and a half months moved out.

“As much I’ve had a bad situation here today, I truly know there are some great tenants out there,” Tait said. “On the flip side, I’ve also known some tenants who have had some great landlords and also landlords that maybe have had their places well maintained.”

“So tenants and landlords that are doing their part and being responsible with how they deal with the rental should really find a way to be able to get together.”

Situations like the one Tait faced recently led to the creation of the start-up, Optimized Rentals, by Tait and a Winnipeg-based partner to connect tenants and landlords.

The company has launched a website that uses a user rating system similar to apps like Airbnb or Uber.

“The idea overall is that there will be a balanced response so it will give tenants the opportunity to respond to landlords and landlords the opportunity to respond to tenants,” Tait explained. “Thus giving the public both sides of the story and they can decide if they want to rent that place or rent to that tenant.”

Founders say user verification will prevent erroneous reviews, but some who work with low-income renters are concerned clients receiving social assistance could be discriminated against.

“If these landlord really want to do something good, they should also be standing up and fighting to ensure that if somebody is low income and they’re on social benefit that they call on the government to increase the shelter rates for these people so that they can cover what the landlord is asking for shelter,” said Bonnie Morton with the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry.

Tait invites tenants and landlords to visit the site and share ratings for free, with the goal of eventually launching an app that’s subscription-based for landlords and free for tenants.