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London startup launches chatbot to help renters exercise their rights


NewsHubLondon-based startup RentersUnion has created what it’s hoping will be a socially useful chatbot, pitching their web-based bot as a robot replacement for (expensive) housing lawyers. The intended user is anyone not on the London property ladder, and thus at the mercy of landlords, tenancy agreements and (apparently ever-inflating) rents.
Not that the chatbot can do much about the latter problem, sadly. But it does offer a little automated help with parsing wordy tenancy agreements to, for example, extract salient details such as fees in an effort to empower a downtrodden section of society.
Visitors to the bot are offered a selection of topics it can help with — from issues with their energy bills to problems with repairs or questions around fees.
Ask the AI for help about fees, for example, and the bot will ask you to upload your tenancy agreement and then pull out any relevant portions, providing a handy PDF overview of what it finds.
You can also ask about repairs — with options to get the bot to review your tenancy agreement in light of a particular problem (e.g. damp/mould, plumbing etc), to see what your rights are and flag up relevant sections of UK law. The bot can also be employed to compose a letter about the issue on your behalf.
For letters, users are asked to provide a few key details before the bot generates a letter on their behalf. There’s an option to ‘make it stronger’, in terms of tone/forcefulness, in case a first draft/s aren’t appropriately irate enough.
It’s a neat use of natural language processing to quickly surface and handle relevant info for users who may not have the time or money to figure it out on their own. Instead they just need to upload their tenancy agreement or input a few key details to get some help or advice.

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