With a large proportion of students traveling home during the summer break, UBC Facebook groups and Craigslist are filled with students desperately trying to find subletters for the summer months.
Flatbook, a subletting startup from Montreal that was launched globally in 2014, has just arrived in Vancouver and is managed by UBC student Daniel Kim. Promising to offer a completely stress-free subletting experience for students, Flatbook will decorate, photograph and clean apartments to rent at hotel prices to businessmen or travellers looking for an authentic, local experience in the city.
Not every apartment or house will be accepted into Flatbook’s selection, however. Conditions such as size, duration of availability and furnishings factor into the eligibility of each residence, which ensures that not all applicants will be successful in using the startup for their summer season.
Worries about paying rent for a house you aren’t living in are a constant concern, yet Flatbook guarantees that, even if an apartment isn’t inhabited for periods of time, the full rent will be paid through the company’s profits.
Kim, a fifth year biology major, is one of the two regional managers for Vancouver, and has focused on gaining the attention and business of major internationally-focused clubs on campus such as the International Student’s Association and CVC, the majority of whose members will not be in Vancouver for the summer months.
Flatbook gives tenants monthly feedback and regularly cleans the apartments, in an aim to make the experience easier for students.
"We collaborate with professional photographers, interior designers, professional cleaners, as well as local artists to make the place look like a hotel," said Kim. "Then we can rent it out to more affluent people who can come from anywhere in the world, and pay hotel prices."
As former president of the UBC Dollar Project and heavily involved with other projects around campus such as fundraiser UBC50K, Kim is keen to use his connections around campus to help renting students enjoy the summer without stressing about finding someone to sublet their apartment.
"There are damage policies, liability policies, there’s free storage, so it’s essentially the easiest thing for the students," said Kim.
Kim stressed that it is only on rare occasion where the subletting has been unsuccessful and attributes the success of the program to the lack of similar initiatives in the country.
According to the B.C. Landlord’s Association, the means in which your property is subletted doesn’t matter, just as long as the subletters sign appropriate and agreed forms, and comply to the terms of residency set out in the rental contract.