Courtesy of Frank Barletta

Frank Barletta, CEO of UPTOP, hopes that the app will ease the rental process.

February 14, 2018

App Hopes to Ease Ithaca Renting by Automating ‘Entire Rental Process End to End’

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A New York-based tech company aims to dominate the Ithaca real estate market by streamlining the entire rental process through a single app.

Like many real estate apps, UPTOP allows tenants to find apartments and connect directly with landlords via a website or mobile application. Once an apartment is found, tenants can sign a lease right from the app, stay in constant communication with their landlord and even pay rent through a credit card.

“I believe we are the first platform that automates the entire rental process end to end,” said Frank Barletta, CEO of UPTOP, in an interview with The Sun.

UPTOP, which is yet to launch on a larger scale, set its sights on Ithaca as a uniquely receptive hub for the platform.

“There’s a high technology usage [in Ithaca],” Barletta said. “After talking to a lot of student renters as well as landlords here, we realized that [our] technology can improve the relationship [between them].”

As part of the expansion into Ithaca, UPTOP acquired Yorango, a similar real estate tech startup founded in Ithaca in 2012 by Cornell students, in January 2017.

“We decided that it would be a great opportunity to acquire them, and pick up where they left off,” Barletta said. “It was an acquisition of spiritual succession — partnerships, relationships and clients.”

UPTOP recently obtained permission from the City of Ithaca Department of Planning, Building, Zoning and Economic Development to access the Property Management Database for Certificate of Compliance data, according to a press release shared with The Sun.

Through this, landlords using the application will be able to display the Certificate of Compliance for prospective tenants, making the implementation of UPTOP in Ithaca easier.

In addition, the Landlords Association of Tompkins County endorsed the project.

“We’re just excited for a tool that would be useful in helping the tenant and the landlord at the same time,” Peggy Thorpe, a spokesperson for the LATC, told The Sun.

Thorpe said that the LATC has explored various web-based tools to facilitate easier renting in the area, and that UPTOP appears to “fit well so far.”

Landlords will not have to pay to put listings on the application or to manage their tenants through the program, according to Barletta. Many parts of the tenant experience are free as well.

“We do not charge for finding apartments; we do not charge for closing deals,” Barletta said.

Tenants who choose to pay through the application by credit card will face a 2.5 percent convenience fee for any payment, according to Barletta.

Although UPTOP is not available for local use yet, Barletta has high hopes for the future.

“In Ithaca, we believe we will be the go-to marketplace for renters to find their apartments,” he said.