Houston, We Have Lift-Off!

For millions of rental residents, earning money for referring a friend to your apartment is an appealing concept, but a bit of a rarity. Atlanta-based startup Rent&Refer has developed a web application that could very well turn the traditional rental referral program into a moneymaking engine for current and soon-to-be renters.

"We're consistently seeing referral fees of $500, $600, even $1000 and more in larger markets," says co-founder Philip Meador. "This is not chump change. There are significant amounts of money being offered by rental properties, and our site gives current and incoming residents a chance to cash in over and over again."

The company's website, RentandRefer.com, allows current and incoming residents at the same rental property to connect with each other and share referral money. It operates similarly to an auction-style website, with current residents submitting their best offer – in the form of a share of the referral fee – to the incoming resident. "Everybody wins," says Meador. "Even the apartment communities. This turns the average rental tenant into an advocate for their property. Not to mention, it could help to alleviate vacancies, attract more prospective renters, and even increase retention of current tenants."

And there's no shortage of a market. Thirty-seven percent of U.S. households were renters in 2015, the highest share since the mid-1960's, according to Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. Builders in the U.S. completed over 230,000 new units in the top 100 markets last year, with approximately 440,000 units now under construction. Demand is strong, and large rental markets in the U.S. are growing at light speed.

Another company co-founder, Gordon Cortez, says his Atlanta apartment is offering residents $800 for referring someone who leases a three-bedroom apartment. "As a prospective user, even if I offered the incoming resident 50% of the referral fee, I'm still netting around $400. That's well worth a few clicks on a website. In addition, if I continue to connect with more and more incoming residents, the dollars can quickly add up!"

Renters waiting around for a friend to move into their community need not wait any longer. As RentandRefer.com states, "We make the connection – You share the referral money."