The Cozy Blog

How I Used Cozy to Rent My Apartment

Written on March 20, 2015 by Ravi Dehar

When I moved to Portland to join Team Cozy, I left behind my place in Oakland. Even though I became a landlord by accident, Cozy makes it easy for me to manage my property remotely. Here's how I maximize Cozy to save time for me and my tenants:

Put the rental application link directly in your Craigslist ad

Getting a pre-screened list of applicants saved me lots of time. Cozy's rental application is free for both landlords and tenants, and while it doesn't take more than a few minutes to complete, it's a great way to find people who are serious about renting your space.

In my case, I posted the application URL in the Craigslist ad, and that's it — there were enough people to fill out the application in advance that I didn't end up sending the application to anyone else that emailed me. I had my existing tenant showing the place as well, so having people fill out the application in advance made sure they were serious and wouldn't waste his time.

Request a credit report at the time of application

With Cozy, you have the option of requiring all applicants to submit a credit report, or requesting credit reports from individual applicants once you've reviewed the rest of their information. By asking applicants to provide a credit report with their application, you'll have all the basic information you need to evaluate their application in one place. (Of course, you still need to meet with them in person to make their personality is a good fit and they like they place!) Cozy's credit reports are soft checks that don't impact applicants' credit scores, and they're safer too, because landlords no longer need to collect Social Security numbers to run credit checks.

Screen applicants in the order you receive their applications

I gave people the option of filling out the application before or after touring the unit, but with the understanding that I'd review applications in the order they were received as an incentive to fill it out early.

Communicate outside Cozy

I like to email everyone as soon as they apply, letting them know that I received the application and that we should schedule a viewing. Since many applicants may be using Cozy for the first time, they may not know what to expect, so it's good to confirm that you're evaluating the application and are planning to meet them.

Make electronic rent payment part of the lease

I use a standard lease agreement from my state (California). I've chosen electronic bank transfer as my preferred rent payment on the lease. I've been fortunate that my tenant prefers that method too, but having it in writing eliminates any doubt. And because online rent payments are free for everyone on Cozy, it's a win-win.

Cozy makes it easier for accidental landlords like myself to manage my rental property, even though I don't even live in the same state. It's free for landlords with any number of properties, so give Cozy's rental property management software a try today!

Better Tenant Credit Reports from Cozy

Written on March 13, 2015 by Chris Rivard

In February we launched the ability for landlords to request credit reports at the beginning of the application process. If you need to screen applicants you can now check tenant credit in just a few clicks, with only a name and email address. It’s no cost to the landlord and the applicant pays just $19.95.

Tenant Credit Report

In speaking to customers directly and through our customer advisory group, we found that some wanted to view more detailed information in the credit report itself. We took a hard look at the information we're providing and considered how we could provide a more in-depth report.

Along with a visual refresh of the report itself, we’ve been hard at work updating information in the report to include account types, status of those accounts and whether the accounts are in good standing. The goal in providing this information is to assist landlords in making good choices when selecting renters.

We’ve got a few surprises just around the corner, but wanted to give you an idea of the direction we’re going. Hope you like it! And if you have any questions - feel free to reach out to our amazing support team at support@cozy.co.

Cozy Credit Reports: The Best Transunion SmartMove Alternative

Written on March 13, 2015 by Ravi Dehar

Running credit reports on Cozy just became a whole lot easier. As we mentioned last month, credit reports on Cozy are no longer tied to a rental application. That means, if you've already got a completed application, or just prefer to use your own, you can still use Cozy for credit reports and free online rent collection. Cozy credit reports are free for landlords.

It now takes just a few seconds to request a credit report from an applicant. To get started, all you need is their names and email addresses (you can request as many as you'd like at once).

That's right — no need to collect Social Security numbers or any other sensitive information from your applicants.

Check tenant credit now.

Cozy's credit reports are better for tenants, too. They only cost $19.95, and they're soft credit checks that provide you with the data you need to make an informed decision, without damaging applicants' credit scores. The data comes straight from Experian, too, so you know you can trust it.

Compared with a service like SmartMove, Cozy is easier to use and more affordable for a lot of landlords and tenants. For one, Cozy's credit reports are just $19.95 — $5 less than SmartMove's basic screening services, and $15 less than the version that includes a full credit report.

Learn more about Cozy's secure tenant credit reports.

Even Better Support at Cozy

Written on March 12, 2015 by Katie Harlow

Here at Cozy, we’re adding thousands of new customers every month. This means our support team is talking to more new folks every day. We’re a startup with a small support team, but we want to ensure that we’re always providing the best support to our customers, on the rare occasions they need it. In thinking through how to make sure we’re scaling our support effectively, we came up with two big topics: coverage and consistency.

Up until recently, we offered support Monday through Friday, with minimal coverage on weekends. But with a growing customer base, we saw the need for staffing 7 days a week. So, we’re now available via email on Saturdays and Sundays too!

Our goal is to make sure we’re all communicating clearly and empathetically. And, in order to provide a consistently wonderful support experience for our customers, we’ve developed a Cozy Style Guide. As Cozy experts, we want to be able to share our knowledge so that our customers both learn something new and feel glad they reached out to us.

The guide includes tips on grammar and punctuation, but the real heart of it is the Voice and Tone piece. This section addresses concrete ways that we can ensure we’re communicating clearly and personably while really connecting with our customers. Here are some of the highlights that we came up with:

  • First and foremost, sound human! That is, be friendly, conversational, and approachable.
  • Use the customer’s name when possible.
  • Be clear: Use easy to understand language and avoid jargon.
  • Be concise: Use short sentences and leave out unnecessary words or details.
  • Be specific: Reference the particulars of a customer’s situation/account.
  • Try to match the customer’s tone. If they’re upbeat and excited, feel free to reflect that. If they’re frustrated or annoyed, express empathy.
  • Say you’re sorry for mistakes, bugs, or other problems.
  • Speak for yourself: use “I” instead of “we” when appropriate.

So, what can you expect when you reach out to our support team? First, you can expect to hear back from us any any day of the week. We’re available 8 AM to 5 PM Pacific Time, every day. You can also expect that no matter who you’re emailing with, we’re doing our best to get you the information you need in an easily digestible way so that you can get back to work as quickly as possible. And, our Help Center is available 24/7 to answer your questions, too!

Introducing the Newest Member of Team Cozy, Kat Gomm

Written on March 12, 2015 by Gino Zahnd

This week, Kat Gomm joined Team Cozy as our new Office Manager. That title sells her role short though, because she heads up bookkeeping, payroll, HR/benefits administration, facilities management and operations, and is also my assistant. If you deal with Cozy behind the scenes, you'll almost certainly deal with Kat.

Kat Gomm

Kat has storied resume that spans corporate administration, HR, project management, sales & marketing, and customer care. She joins Cozy from NACCO Materials Handling Group (they make all sorts of cool forklifts and other industrial products), where she was the Executive Assistant to their CIO and VP of Global Product Development.

She's a native Portlander (rare, indeed!), and spends as much time as possible traveling to international spots off the beaten path.

Welcome, Kat!

Pay Rent with Dwolla? Get More by Switching to Cozy.

Written on March 06, 2015 by Ravi Dehar

Dwolla is one of several popular peer-to-peer payment services, along the lines of PayPal and Venmo. Some landlords and tenants use Dwolla to send and collect rent each month, but there's a better way: Cozy. Cozy offers much more than just free online rent payments.

Cozy is a service built from the ground up just for landlords and tenants, so it goes far beyond a peer-to-peer payments system.

Here are a few ways Cozy is different:

Deposit move-in costs into a separate bank account.

Some local laws require that landlords hold security deposits in escrow in a separate bank account for the duration of the lease (and, in some cases, pay yearly interest on that amount).

Process payments from multiple tenants seamlessly.

If you've got roommates, or you're a landlord with multiple tenants in a unit, Cozy can help. Cozy collects rent from every tenant on the lease and sends the landlord one deposit every month. No more worrying about who paid and whether or not the amount adds up to the rent requested.

Screen tenants and run credit checks too.

Cozy is a complete rental management solution. In addition to free online rent payments, Cozy also offers secure tenant credit checks that don't require the landlord to obtain a Social Security number and doesn't harm the tenants' credit scores.

And, best of all, it's free!

Cozy charges for just one thing — credit reports, which cost tenants $19.95 when a landlord requests one. The rent payments and other tenant screening features are free, though, and you can always start using Cozy just for the free rent payments. Dwolla charges $0.25 per transaction, so in addition to all the other benefits of using Cozy, you'll also be saving a bit of money!

Cozy is a smart, safe Dwolla rent collection alternative. Sign up today for free!. If you're a renter using or considering Dwolla to pay your rent, invite your landlord to try Cozy instead.

Paying Rent with Venmo? Cozy is more secure.

Written on March 02, 2015 by Ravi Dehar

We know lots of landlords and tenants use Venmo to send and receive fee-free online rent payments. Venmo is popular because it's so easy to use, but just last week, The New York Times reported on a security flaw that can permanently compromise a connected checking account.

Venmo Rent Collection

There are a few issues brought up in the article, but the biggest issue appears to be that anyone who can access your phone can potentially access your linked checking account, and support options, should your account be compromised, are limited.

Which is where services like Cozy can help. Cozy is built from the ground up with payments tools that are specifically designed for landlords and tenants. On top of that, Cozy offers world-class support, even on weekends. You're never left on your own.

Collecting rent online with Cozy is easy and, like Venmo, completely free for both landlords and tenants. Cozy also makes it easy to collect and save security deposits, move-in costs, and more, with a clear transaction history.

Cozy is safer, too. With Cozy, rent amounts are set by the landlord in advance and don't change — you're never surprised with how much is deposited or withdrawn, and neither party can make changes without getting approval.

Cozy is a smart, safe Venmo rent collection alternative. Sign up today for free! If you're a renter using or considering Venmo to pay your rent, invite your landlord to try Cozy instead.

WilliamPaid, Rentmatic, Lovely, and SparkRent — What Sets Cozy Apart?

Written on February 25, 2015 by Ravi Dehar

It's been a surprisingly eventful month in the world of online rent collection.

SparkRent and Rentmatic / Lovely transitioned users to other products that might not be a great fit for many landlords and tenants. SparkRent suggested a far more expensive alternative, while Rentmatic suggested a far more cumbersome solution without very much time to make the switch.

And just yesterday, WilliamPaid announced that they are shutting down as well.

Understandably, this makes some landlords and tenants wary. What do these services have in common, and how is Cozy different?

Simply put, for those services, rent payments were their only business. Cozy is different because we know rent payments are not our primary revenue source — in part, that's why rent payments via bank transfer are free with Cozy for both tenants and landlords. We make money on credit reports and, in the future, other optional premium features.

What's next if you use one of those services mentioned above? We recommend switching to Cozy as soon as you can.

SparkRent users have until March 23rd before the service shuts down completely, but because it can take a few days to get tenants set up and bank accounts verified, consider getting set up as soon as possible.

Rentmatic and Lovely users should migrate immediately to ensure that March rent is collected electronically on time.

WilliamPaid users have until March 3rd but, again, we recommend getting everything set up as soon as possible, particularly if you have tenants that sometimes pay after the 2nd.

If you need help migrating to Cozy, let our support team help. And, of course, welcome!

Introducing Easier, Faster Tenant Credit Reports

Written on February 17, 2015 by Gino Zahnd

Using Cozy to run a credit check on a prospective tenant is faster than ever before. If you already have a paper rental application and just need a credit report, all you have to do is invite prospective tenants to share their credit report with you. (You should check out our application and screening tools as well!)

As always, Cozy Credit Reports are free for landlords and just $19.95 for tenants. Even better, Cozy Credit Reports are soft credit checks that don't harm tenants' credit scores, and are more secure for both landlords and tenants: there's no need to collect or store Social Security Numbers or any other sensitive data.

We'll handle everything else and let you know when it's ready.

If you'd like to use Cozy's online rental application, we've made sure the credit reports are integrated seamlessly: just sign up for Cozy for free, add your property and email or post your vacancy's application link wherever you advertise your available rentals. You can make sure that every applicant also submits a credit report, so you'll have a more complete picture of whether the tenant will be a good fit.

Checking your tenant's credit score has never been easier.

How Does Cozy Make Money?

Written on February 13, 2015 by Ravi Dehar

Sometimes, Cozy seems too good to be true, especially if you're using us just for the free online rent payments: what's the catch?

The truth is, Cozy charges for just one thing: credit reports. Those are paid for by the tenant when a landlord requests one as part of the screening process. They cost $19.95, don't impact the tenants' credit score, and for most landlords they completely replace any other rental application fee.

If you've already got a tenant, and you're using Cozy just to collect rent payments, guess what? Cozy is free for you and your tenants. We're not hiding any fees in the fine print here. There are no monthly fees, no transaction fees, no contracts, no set up fees, nothing.

Which sometimes brings up the next question: is that sustainable? How do you stay in business?

There are couple of answers.

We're backed by top-tier investors

Cozy has a team of investors that are helping fuel our growth and ensure our long-term success. We're on a mission to help independent landlords everywhere, and we're here to stay.

We're building even more tools to help improve the landlord-tenant relationship

We're just getting started on our journey. In the months and years ahead, we'll be releasing new products and features that make life easier for landlords and tenants alike. In some cases, these premium features will come at a nominal cost, but the existing features you see today will remain free.

Give us a try! Sign up as a landlord today.