Happipad connects fire victims with new rental leads

Rentals are hard to come by, but one local company is trying to make it easier …

More than 100 Kelowna residents who were forced into the rental market when their condo building burned down met this week with men and women offering hope for some security in the days to come.

The residents of the Water’s Edge condominium will likely be out of the homes they own for anywhere from one to three years. The residents of the 11 units at the Walnut Grove motel next door don’t know if they’ll ever get to return to the cheap lodgings they once called home.

All are very unsure of what the future holds, which is what made the meeting set up by Happipad—a recently launched online marketplace matching renters and landlords—a bright light in an otherwise dark period.

Happipad made a call to property managers and even people renting basement suites or carriage houses to meet this Monday.

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“We got everyone into the room and we ran it like a job fair or a speed dating event,” said Cailan Libby, who launched Happipad with his partner just a week ago.

“We had tables set up for property managers and the (prospective renters) all went around and communicated with them and established a relationship.”

That interaction was exactly what he was hoping for. Kelowna’s tight rental market was daunting to those who had already lost so much.

And, said Libby, the people who have places to rent are often cautious with who they consider.

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“Everyone loved the event—I didn’t hear one negative comment,” said Libby, noting that the room they held the event was overflowing with people.

It’s unclear how many rental connections were made as of yet, but Libby said he expects to hear something in the days ahead.

He knows of one Walnut Grove resident who was afraid he’d never find a place to live who now has a lead on an affordable basement suite.

Libby also knows that he wants to hold an event of this kind again.

“There are a lot of issues related to renting in our community,” he said. “We want to be fair with the tenants and the property owners. We want to be the facilitators from two sides.”

Happipad has been in production for the last year. The beta version has been launched with a focus on the Okanagan, but there are plans for it to spread beyond local borders, going as far as the USA.

“Most people have said this is what people have been waiting for,” he said. “My business partner and I are engineers and we want to solve problems.”

The fire department has yet to offer up the reason for the fire but residents believe that it’s due to a construction incident on the parking garage floor of the neighbouring building.