Skip to content Skip to footer

Find Vacation Rentals—But From Someone You Know: Meet Trustr, A New Rental Site

According to the National Association of Home Builders, there are 7.5 million second homes in the United States, which is 5.11% of the total number of homes. Yet even in this age of busy rental platforms like Airbnb, 65% of them are never listed on the major rental sites, mostly because their owners would rather not rent to strangers.

But that could soon change for some of them thanks to a new website that makes renting a home feel safer.

Brent Hieggelke, one of the founders of Trustr, told me that most second homes are viewed more as personal investments than rental properties, so they sit empty 10 to 11 months a year. “Many second home owners would be open to sharing or renting them, but only to people that they know and trust,” said Hieggelke. “Trustr is the first platform built for these owners, allowing them to create a listing visible only to their curated guest list. It provides the peace of mind they need to share and rent their property.”   

To that end, Trustr, which debuts June 5, works on several access tiers.

At the first tier (called Private Listing—Free Edition), home owners can create a rental listing for their second home for free and send its URL to up to 10 friends and family members. That will be the limit of their access of the Trustr site, though.

The next level up (Private Listing—Unlimited) allows the renter to send out as many links as they want. At this level, Trustr will also feature semi-private listings, which allow renters to post a summary of their home either to their direct social network (friends), or to a more extended network (friends and friends of friends).

With all of these tiers, potential renters must reach out to get permission from the owner before they can see the full details of the property.

For both the paid tiers, home owners pay either $9.95 a month or $99.95 for the year to post their property or properties.

How rental fee money exchanges hands is up to the parties involved. It can either happen through Venmo or some other private payment system, or they can pay a small commission to Trustr to use its own payment system, which is available to all members except those on the free tier.

Interestingly, Trustr also allows renters to set their own rental rules—unlike VRBO or Airbnb, which standardize rules for hosts regarding methods and speed of communication, cancellation policies, and more. The hope is that because these rental arrangements are being made between friends and friends of friends, both parties will be able to come up with a mutually agreeable plan. This should also appeal to the growing number of guests and hosts who bristle at Airbnb’s growing list of rules and added fees.

In addition to peer-to-peer rentals, the site will also act as a place to read reviews of homes and apartments that your friends have rented on other platforms. As with rental listings, only friends or friends of friends of the person posting the review will be able to see the text.

It’s a new way to help give travelers access to home rental reviews that are certified as valid. “Reviews and ratings are completely untrustworthy now. Too many are actually disguised marketing created by A.I. to look real,” Hieggelke said. “What’s not untrustworthy is going to your friends and getting their direct recommendations, because that’s old-fashioned word of mouth. We’re just tapping into that.”

When users rent on third-party platform based on a review they read on Trustr, Trustr gets a commission for the booking.

Because Trustr only launched on June 5, I haven’t had a chance to test it, and it doesn’t yet have the volume necessary for everyone to find their ideal rental on it.

But founder Hieggelke thinks its utility will be apparent quickly.

“You could probably find a place in every corner of the world through your social network,” he said. “Trustr will just make that process easier.”