The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) has announced partnering with local startup Igloo to develop a blockchain-based tenancy agreement platform.
The partnership will see residential tenancy agreements executed as digital smart contracts in Queensland by the end of this year.
In a statement, REIQ general manager Josh Callaghan said the new smart contracts would use blockchain technology to create a simple and secure transaction for each tenancy agreement to "leverage the benefits of the technology as an irrefutable source of truth".
"All parties will have visibility over the contract at any time from the palm of their hand. By executing as a smart contract, we're also able to build out the functionality to handle payments of bond and rent, plus facilitate other activities related to the property such as routine inspections and maintenance," Callaghan said.
"Since the inception of smart contracts, their application to real estate contracts seemed obvious to me. We were very fortunate to discover an Australian-based startup that also shared that vision."
Callaghan expects the product will make renting a property easier and more transparent for tenants.
"This solution has been designed to reduce the manual handling of contracts from the property manager-side, while streamlining the process for tenants and giving both parties much better visibility over the agreement," he said.
REIQ believes the offering will ultimately create a real-time view of the state's rental market.
"The instant a tenancy agreement is signed, we will know how much a property was rented for, how long the agreement is for, how long it was vacant and so on, which will give the REIQ unprecedented insights into rental market trends as it happens," Callaghan continued.
The organisation said its technology has "far-reaching applications" for the real estate sector.
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The New South Wales government in October said it was looking to make property conveyancing into an electronic process, turning to distributed ledger technology as a means to make the practice cheaper, more reliable, and more secure.
The NSW Land Registry Services kicked off a proof of concept with Stockholm-based ChromaWay, which will be built on the startup's open source technology.
"Rapid and far-reaching technology change is impacting traditional approaches to land dealings registration and general business operations around the globe. NSW Land Registry Services is embracing this new world by conducting a series of targeted experiments with globally-recognised technology companies," Land Registry Services CEO Adam Bennett said at the time.
The Australian government's Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) recently gave advice to those getting lost in the buzz of blockchain.
"It is the DTA's current position that blockchain is an emerging technology worthy of ongoing observation. However, without standardisation and additional work, for many uses of blockchain, there are currently other mature technologies that may be more suitable for immediate use," is the agency's official position.
Addressing Senate Estimates in October, DTA chief digital officer Peter Alexander dunked on its use, adding to the above that "for every use of blockchain you would consider today, there is a better technology -- alternate databases, secure connections, standardised API engagement".
"Blockchain: Interesting technology but early on in its development, it's kind of at the top of a hype cycle," he said.
The government entity has even published a questionnaire for organisations to self-evaluate before bothering with something that can just be stored in a secure database.
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