With less than two months to find subletters for the summer as the winter semester draws to a close, one company hopes to make the process easier.

Flatbook is a free service that guarantees rent for those leaving their rented properties on a short-term basis. After interested parties fill out an application form allowing the subletting company to take over, Flatbook cleans each property and works with professional photographers, interior designers, and artists to attract subletters. They also insure each space and offer to store any valuables.



“Flatbook makes money by charging a daily hospitality fee to stay in our redecorated spaces. We give much of what we make back to students who trust us with their place, the rest goes into expanding the Flatbook Program to help as many students as we can,” says Roger Huang, head of marketing at Flatbook.

Founded in 2012 and based in Montréal, Flatbook grew 800 per cent last year alone in terms of the number of properties managed, operating in 11 cities, including Vancouver and Brussels.

This year, the company plans on expanding to service more than 30 cities, including Tel Aviv, Rome and Paris.

“We proved our model by saving people over $500,000 in rent and growing exponentially faster the last year through our regional manager program: a position paid by commission that allows us to manage and scale across several cities at once,” says Huang.

Flatbook uses platforms such as Airbnb and Homeaway to attract travelers — mainly families and business people — to properties.

Theodore Milosevic, a graduate student at U of T’s Munk School, works for Flatbook as a regional manager in Toronto, preparing properties in the city. “When I was in Scotland for undergrad I would sublet my apartment over the summer and know firsthand the stress associated with finding someone to sublet, ensuring they pay in full and on time, and making sure everything in your apartment is the same when you come back,” says Milosevic.

“We check up on apartments to make sure nothing’s wrong and make sure the apartment’s running smoothly. There’s no central office in Toronto, but the regional managers coordinate closely,” Milosevic adds.

Aside from guaranteeing rent for students, Flatbook also wishes to support their summer plans.

“We’ve always offered extra money on top of people’s rent, but it’s really the human connection that we’re going for this year… This year, we’re looking for something a bit more personal on top of that. We’re collecting stories of what people are going to do with their rent and already, we have some ideas brewing for gifts we can send them,” says Huang.