A harrowing experience in Mumbai
led Amir Rizvi to launch an online service for those seeking a flat on rent
First Published: Mon, Oct 07 2013. 12 18 AM IST
Amir Rizvi says his website
has limitations in terms of filtering members and posts. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
Several people moving to Mumbai and looking for a rented accommodation have a run-in with property brokers. Amir Rizvi
had a harrowing experience finding a rented house in suburban Mumbai, and in 2009 decided to start an online service that would eliminate the middleman and directly link an apartment owner to a potential tenant.
“Most often the brokers do not give services that match the brokerage and we feel extorted,” Rizvi said. Besides, it’s in the broker
’s interest to push up the rent as his commission is linked to it.
Rizvi initially launched his service on Google Inc.
’s social media Orkut
but that failed to attract attention. So when Facebook
started getting popular, he launched a group on it called “Flats Without Brokers” that became an instant hit. It had around 2,000 members by the end of 2010.
But the restrictions Facebook imposed on groups following the Jasmine revolution in Tunisia
in 2010-2011, fanned in part by social networking websites, hit Rizvi’s operations.
By then Rizvi, with the help of his friend Saleem Husain
, a director at Citigroup
(international capital markets), started a website named flatswithoutbroker.com. Husain had immediately agreed to Rizvi’s suggestion to start the website as he too had faced trouble with brokers while searching for a flat in Mumbai, though his company had shortlisted apartments for him. Husain is the sole sponsor and so far has invested Rs.7 lakh on the website.
A user can log on to the website using