openTenancy was born from a simple conversation between both myself and Ana, my co-founder. I was frustrated with how hard it was to access something that told me exactly what tenancy rights I had. Instead my options were to comb through the legislation or piece together the advice from numerous different articles.
We were both MSc Computer Science students (now graduates!), I had completed my LLB just under a year before, and we felt that combined we would be able to address a real gap in the legal system. We wanted to create a website where individuals wouldn't have to go searching for their answer across walls of text filled with legal jargon, and instead build a single questionnaire that guides the user to their answer.
To put it simply, openTenancy is a website with an automated questionnaire about UK tenancy rights. At the end of the interview the user gets a document listing each question that we asked and their answers, as well as a simple paragraph containing relevant guidance outlining their tenancy rights. It's not legal advice, but instead meant to be a single a simple summary to guide a user's research. Most of our guidance ends in signposting, which we hope will alleviate some of the strain on local legal aid centres.
Ana and I wanted openTenancy to be more than just us, and we felt that it had the power to become a community. This is an opportunity for law students, lawyers, and ordinary citizens who are willing to put in the time to research, an opportunity to build something that will benefit others. From the response we've already received we hope that we're on to something here. More than that, the future of openTenancy will continue to be shaped by our contributors. This means that the topics on our site are the ones that are needed most rather than those that we decided to do.
We'd love for you to contribute, which you can do without coding knowledge! We welcome contributions in the form of decision trees or flowcharts directly, which we then turn in to code. Alternatively, if you know how to code we welcome contributions directly to our Docassemble source code. Similarly we invite you to choose an available tenancy topic and transform this in to a Docassemble interview. For more information on either way to contribute, visit our Contributing page.
Now that we have covered the topics under Repairs, we're open for contributors to continue submitting tenancy topics to our Github which we'll then integrate in to our automated interview. From there, we'll grow in the direction that our users and contributors would like us to. Success for openTenancy will be helping even just one person with the questionnaire on our site, and we're so excited that the time is finally here that users can begin accessing it.
openTenancy isn't perfect, and we can't guarantee there won't be issues or bugs within the interview or on our website, but we're excited to begin iterating off of this version.
This has been over six months coming, and we're so excited to finally share openTenancy with you. We hope that you'll consider contributing and joining us on our mission to make the law more accessible through Legal Tech, as well as making the law open source. This is just the beginning.