As rents soar to unprecedented levels in central Florida, a new service connects low-income Orlando renters to available rooms.
PadSplit offers available rooms for less than the market price. Residents share a common living space, including kitchen and dining area, in one house. PadSplit was founded in Atlanta in 2017 and expanded to Orlando in June.
The scheme offers several benefits for low-income renters. PadSplit residents do not need to pass a credit check or pay a security deposit. Renters pay a $19 registration fee and a $100 move-in fee plus the first week’s rent.
After that, the rent is weekly (including additional costs) for a minimum stay of 31 days, but no rental contract.
PadSplit rooms in Orlando start at $150 per week. According to real estate analyst CoStar, the median market rent in Orlando is $1,799.
Rooms must be furnished by the host and have an interior lock on each bedroom door. Renters must supply their own linens. The house is looked after by a host who owns the property but does not normally live there.
The company also offers telemedicine, loan repair, and job-matching services for renters.
“This is for renters who don’t have great options,” said PadSplit co-founder Atticus LeBlanc. “Each and every one of them is looking for their next step.”
Richard Rose, 38, moved into a PadSplit room in Orlando’s Englewood neighborhood earlier this month. At $215 a week, he saves hundreds of dollars compared to the extended-stay hotels he found rooms at.
“I signed up, got approved and was in the following week,” he said.
LeBlanc says 40% of PadSplit renters just need a safe place. “Your next step is stability,” he said.
Others, he said, are college students saving for housing or working people saving for something more permanent.
Saving for a home: “That’s my ultimate goal,” Rose said. Rose, a chef with dual jobs on International Drive and Kissimmee, said he’s rarely in his new place but likes his roommates and the backyard where he can relax. “At the moment I feel good.”
Letricia Morrow, 41, of Georgia, said her experience was less than pleasant when she and her son moved into a PadSplit home in Jacksonville while her son attended school.
“We needed an apartment that didn’t require us to sign a lease,” she said. “That’s the only good thing about PadSplit.”
She said the room she was in did not match the pictures she had been shown, the air conditioning was broken and her room had no lock.
“You don’t have a lot of space, but you have space to put your head down,” she said. “I wouldn’t recommend it unless it’s a last resort.”
Morrow, a customer service rep, said she didn’t find out the address until the day she moved in. She said if she had received them sooner, she could have checked on the neighborhood, which she said felt unsafe.
LeBlanc says they began withholding the address after people received the address without signing up and then showed up at the property. “We didn’t get over that [policy] without hard-earned experience,” he said.
He said tenants will be shown the residence street so they can visit the neighborhood in advance.
And residents can move to other accommodations if they don’t like their apartment and another room is available.
“I expect people will move in and for whatever reason, they’ll be dissatisfied with the experience,” LeBlanc said.
PadSplit has 22 rooms in Orlando, with another 250 coming online in a few months. The company has over 4,500 rented or available rooms nationwide.
Zoning laws often prohibit the splitting of homes into rentals, which limits the amount of property that is available to PadSplit. In Atlanta, where PadSplit is based, LeBlanc said he is working with officials to make zoning more flexible for his type of lease.
“PadSplit only operates in jurisdictions where we believe we have a strong case for compliance,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc is a landlord himself, having studied affordable housing since college. He said he initially convinced real estate investors to let him rent rooms rather than flip their properties.
“Flipping houses ultimately creates displacement,” he said. “We train our hosts.”
LeBlanc said his company is driven by a mission to expand affordable housing opportunities.
“You have millions and millions of people in America who need affordable housing,” he said. “We’re far from scratching the surface.”
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