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AmaRoom takes township rentals to a new level

Written by Kgaogelo Letsebe

New free-to-use app connects potential tenants to backroom landlords

Entrepreneurs Israel Mashele (32) and Oskido Mathe (32) have developed an app called AmaRoom to help tenants find room rentals in townships. 

“It is a quick, safe and easy way to find your perfect room in a township,” says Mashele.

He came up with the idea when he realised that many people in Tembia, Gauteng were struggling to find rental accommodation.

“I worked with an agent to help me find tenants for the rooms at my parental home. I found it fascinating that he advertised his rooms on WhatsApp.

“When I asked him why, he said people are using mobile technology and apps are an easy way to spread word-of-mouth advertising. This sparked the idea,” Mashele explains.

It took over two years for Mashele to perfect the app. He explains that a landlord simply uploads their personal details, an image of the property, where it’s located and how much it costs.

An administrator then conducts security checks and approves or denies the post. Tenants can then search for a property to rent.

The app covers 263 townships nationally.

“We have enabled landlords to add areas which may not have been covered, but an administrator also has to validate and approve these areas. Our aim is to grow our coverage in Gauteng, particularly in Alexandra, Soweto and Tembisa.”

The app is free to use. “The market is tough and asking uMama or uBaba to pay a subscription fee would not suffice. Instead, we are looking at potential advertisers, such as local moving companies, DStv installers and other service suppliers one uses when you move.”

South Africa’s informal rental market is said to make up 18% of the country’s rental market, translating to thousands of rands each year.

The app is aligned with government’s research into a plan to upgrade township dwellers’ properties, for backyard rentals, by creating a rent-sharing agreement between the main landlord and funder.

The Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile, recently said: “Most townships and informal settlements have a thriving backyard rental market that provides affordable accommodation to people who can’t afford rental housing provided by the big players in the social housing market.”

The app is available to download from the Google Play Store and Apple iStore.