This startup wants to put a free tiny house in your backyard

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Rent the Backyard will get a tiny house into your backyard in a matter of weeks—and hopes it can add some cheaper apartments in cities to help alleviate the housing crisis.

In cities with housing shortages, little room to build, and opposition to new construction, building small cottages in backyards can be one way to add new apartments quickly. One new startup wants to help it happen even faster: The company handles the cost and construction process for homeowners in exchange for a cut of the rent when a tenant moves in.

“Right now, to build an accessory dwelling unit is a huge process,” says Spencer Burleigh, cofounder of Rent the Backyard, a Bay Area-based startup in the current cohort at the tech accelerator Y Combinator. “You have to talk with the city and deal with the permits. And even if you can find a great builder that is able to do a lot of those steps for you, you’re still fronting a whole lot of money.”

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