An alternative to security deposits

$100 million. That's how much renters saved thanks to this entrepreneur's app.

Life savings = security deposits

Security deposits, typically one month's rent landlord require upfront, make it hard for many people to afford an apartment. In New York City alone, renters paid over $500 million in security deposits in 2016. Ankur Jain came up with one way to solve this problem. “It's something we all just do every time you sign a lease. You take thousands of dollars, give it to your landlord and hope you get it back,” Jain explains.

A new alternative

He launched Rhino in 2017. Renters pay a nonrefundable monthly fee and Rhino provides the landlord with an insurance policy that can reimburse them for damages normally covered by a security deposit. “Your landlord's protected for the whole same amount of monthly rent and you get to save that money on moving… Just like any other insurance, all that normal day to day wear and tear living is now covered and you get to keep your money… If there's any issues at the end of the lease, the landlord just files a claim with Rhino and can get their claim paid back,” he shares.

Jain said he started Rhino to make housing more affordable and equitable. It costs renters an average of $5 a month for a $1,000 security deposit. “So many families and young people are stuck in their apartments today, unable to move to better locations, be closer to their job, get access to school districts. But with this kind of policy now, all that money's freed up. And if you can afford to pay the rent, you can afford to move,” Jain reveals. He also wants to free up cash for young renters with minimal savings. “If you can't afford to live in the cities where you can get the job to pay off your student loans, you're already put behind. And if you can't take savings and have the opportunity to invest it rather than have it locked up in an escrow account owned by some landlord, how are you ever supposed to build the wealth you need to take care of a family one day or to buy a home one day? So these little things make a huge difference in putting $1,000 or $2,000 back in everyone's pocket from the time they're starting their career,” he admits.

New legislation

In January 2020, Cincinnati became the first U.S. city requiring landlords to offer alternatives to cash security deposits — like payment plans and insurance. “Already over 15 other states and cities have announced plans to introduce renter’s choice legislation. So I think this is a national movement,” he states. In 2019, Jain said Rhino saved renters $100 million in security deposits, and was available in nearly 400,000 apartments.