A venture fund focused on middle-class problems is tackling a huge obstacle for millennial renters

Kairos founder Ankur Jain. Sarah Jacobs
  • Kairos, a venture-capital fund focused on fixing problems plaguing the middle class, is launching a new company called Rhino.
  • Through Rhino, renters can pay a small monthly fee in lieu of a one-time security deposit.
  • At launch, Rhino will be available for 22,000 apartments in New York City.

Perhaps you are looking to move to a new apartment. You find a great place, but you’ll need to pay first month’s rent plus a security deposit equal to at least one month’s rent.

In big cities like New York, where rent prices are exorbitant to begin with, many millennial renters struggle to come up with the extra cash for a security deposit. Even for those who can afford it, it’s frustrating to have thousands of dollars tied up in a landlord’s hand until you move out.

Rhino, a company launched by venture-capital fund Kairos, is aiming to help eliminate those cumbersome housing costs for renters. Rhino allows renters to pay the company a monthly fee – typically between $US10 and $US20 – in lieu of a one-time security deposit paid to a landlord.

Upfront rental costs are a “huge financial burden for folks at a time where most people don’t have that kind of savings available to them,” Kairos founder Ankur Jain told Business Insider. “Our goal is to make cost of living cheaper whether you’re a low income household or renting a luxury apartment.”

Landlords, meanwhile, will receive double the protection through Kairos’ partner insurance company. They will have more security by receiving money within 48 hours and not worrying about small claims suits.

Rhino apartment listing
Rhino’s deposit-free program will be available in other US cities soon. Courtesy of Rhino

“By replacing traditional deposits with a small monthly fee, Rhino is able to cut down the cost of a new apartment significantly,” Jain said. “That means more access to better apartments for more renters.”

In November, Jain announced a fund to fix problems facing middle-class Americans, including child care and retirement planning, along with a $US25 million commitment to help “make housing more affordable for everyday people.” Tackling the obstacles associated with sky-high rent in urban centres is a priority.

Rhino’s deposit-free program is currently available for 22,000 New York City apartments, where renters will also be able to get any existing security deposits returned to them. Jain told Business Insider the service will be available throughout “a significant portion” of the US within six months.

Rhino fits into a greater trend of deposit-free housing, which is as of now restricted to the luxury market, according to Jain.

Watch the video below to learn more about how Rhino works: