Website set up against 'landlord mafia'

UNCOVERED: Mauro Truglio has created a flatting version of MenuMania called Rate Your Flat.

UNCOVERED: Mauro Truglio has created a flatting version of MenuMania called Rate Your Flat.

A Palmerston North man has created a website for disgruntled renters to speak out against the pockets of landlord "mafia" taking advantage of them.

Mauro Truglio, who came to the city from Rome in 2012, has spent the past six months building the house-renting equivalent of popular rating websites MenuMania and TripAdvisor.

His website lets renters give a mark out of five for their previous flat's location, condition, quality of living, furniture, and landlord and provide a moderated summary of how it was.

Because the address of the property is used, those looking for a flat can then cross-reference with the places they are looking at, and use the ratings to inform their decision.

Truglio said he started it because although individual universities in the United States and even in Dunedin used rating systems, there was no website that did the same thing globally.

Horror stories, including people renting former methamphetamine labs and cockroach-infested houses, could be avoided, and it would encourage landlords to up the service that renters were paying for, Truglio said.

"The way renting is, there needs to be some way for people to leave a trace of what they think of their flat," he said.

"There's a lot of landlords out there that don't want future tenants to know about the defects of their house."

Truglio, 30, said he had yet to live in an awful flat in Palmerston North but there were plenty back in Italy.

"There's a little mafia of landlords in Rome that take advantage of the fact that everyone wants to live in Rome. They split houses into six or seven tiny flats and charge hundreds of euros for what are horrible old places that they haven't ever felt the urge to work on."

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Truglio said he was trying to do a social good rather than make money from the website but he hoped it crossed the threshold where it became useful for everyone.

Manawatu Tenants Union spokesman Kevin Reilly said the website was a great idea and fitted well with a push by unions nationwide to get rental warrants of fitness.

Property Brokers Palmerston North rental division manager David Faulkner said landlords would not be delighted by the idea of having their names in lights online, but it was inevitable in a social media age.

Tenants were often judged by the references they had received from previous landlords but the only concern was that the site would be used predominantly for the negative, he said.

"I can see it becoming a place for tenants to vent, rather than somewhere people will go to provide constructive criticism."

 - Manawatu Standard


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