Robots Are Now Giving Prospective Renters Apartment Tours

A company called Zenplace is making the apartment rental process more self-service - you unlock the front door using a special code, then once you're inside, a robot takes you on a tour.

It's the latest way to rent an apartment: through a robotic real estate agent!

It's half human, half iPad, and all business.

"Zenplace reduces all the hassle involved with scheduling a time for a showing," explained Daniel Ohriner, who does Field Operations for Zenplace in Los Angeles.


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Here’s how it works:

After a quick background check, prospective renters are able to unlock the front door of an apartment they want to seee using a one time code.

One they're inside, they’re greeted by a robot (nicknamed Zenny), along with a real human via video chat to lead them around and answer any questions.

The agent on the other end sits at desk miles away. Instead of a few appointments a day, they can show 15-20 different apartments.

"It’s controlled remotely, where the iPad itself can pivot up or down. The only limitation is that it can’t do stairs, yet," explained Ohriner.

"It does have a sensor if I get close to something, but it just tells me what I’m near," said Rabia Levy, a Zenplace employee who appears on the iPad screen.  "At first people are shocked. They’re not expecting to show up and have a robot and have me there talking to them, but then they like it because they can ask me questions that they have."

Zenplace says its technology - which is just for rentals - is more efficient than the existing process. The renter we met with seemed to agree.

"This experience, where you can just get a code on your phone and unlock it and the the keys are right there... I can do it on my own time and have that flexibility," said Brooke Preston, an apartment hunter in Los Angeles.

One more example of how technology is powering an on-demand economy, making renting an apartment faster than ever.

On the web:

Zenplace