The pandemic has meant different things to different people. But one much-discussed byproduct of the Covid contagion seems to have impacted a disproportionate number of people. That is the arrival of a new level of flexibility in working and living.
The flexibility is most evident in the approach of employers and employees to traditional workplace strictures. It’s also being witnessed in a fresh new malleability when it comes to lease terms. With remote work allowing unprecedented levels of lifestyle mobility, the traditional 12-month rental lease just doesn’t make as much sense as it once did.
That’s ushered in a dramatic rise in what might be termed “flexible living providers,” companies offering turnkey, amenity-rich living arrangements that aren’t chained to a rigid full-year lease. A recent CBRE report announced short-term rentals grew in occupancy by 8% in the year between July 2020 and June 2021. Revenue per available room surged by 26% during that 12-month period. The upshot has been more business for companies with names like Sentral, Landing, Blueground and Common.
Customers leveraging the services of Sentral can book any length of stay — whether a month or two, or a year – that suits their lifestyles. They can choose from any type of size and layout, ranging from studio to penthouses in designer-furnished apartments, with high-end finishes, fully-equipped kitchens and well-conceived floor plans.
A typical residence might feature adaptable consoles that convert into a desk or dining table, or a home office that can transition into a second bedroom. Sentral also chooses buildings with abundant amenities, from rooftop pools to co-working spaces.
The company has properties in Los Angeles, Austin, Miami, Denver, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta and Nashville, and is seeking to expand into Boston, San Francisco, Dallas and Washington, D.C., as well as international capitals.
A well-funded newcomer, Sentral blends expertise in property management, hospitality and technology with backing from industry leaders Bozzuto and Highgate, real estate investment firm Ascendant Capital and tech investor ICONIQ Capital.
“Sentral’s innovative ‘any length of stay’ business model defines a new proptech category, erasing the lines between apartments and hotels,” company CEO Jon Slavet says. “We are uniquely positioned for a new kind of customer who values flexibility, whether they are traveling for work or pleasure or want to come home to any of our communities for any length of time.”
Founded three years ago as a membership-based network of fully-furnished apartments in newer or recently renovated properties with plentiful amenities, Landing offers studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom residences. The company now has apartments in more than 200 cities, among them Atlanta, Austin, Miami, Nashville and San Francisco.
Because Landing allows members to sign 30-plus-day leases, they are able to freely move around within the Landing network, and never have to endure the headaches of rigid leases, security deposits, moving furniture or getting utilities turned on. Speaking of furniture, apartments are appointed in Landing in-house-designed furnishings.
The company serves up leases for as little as a month, partnering with major property owners and signing long-term contracts for units. It then outfits those units with designer furnishings to ensure they are move-in ready, and rents them out to its customers seeking flexible leases. Partnerships with service providers enable Blueground to offer its customers gourmet meals, wine delivery, car rentals and more. The company provides residences in cities across the globe, from Boston to Berlin.
The point of differentiation for this company is its offer of private rooms within luxe-furnished shared suites. Rent is all-inclusive and cleanings are weekly.
Common members can choose from more than 22,000 signed units under development in 22 international cities, finding they can save more than $500 monthly vis-à-vis traditional studio apartments. Available lease terms are three months and up.