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Western’s new resource for off-campus housing

By Naileah Abarca

Whether you are tired of the dining hall food, fed up with your assigned roommates or want that pet cat, Western has made strides toward these goals with its newest collaboration. Western has partnered up with the housing marketplace, Rent College Pads.

Julia Burns, program manager of Off Campus Living, said Western decided to collaborate with this online marketplace for a multitude of reasons, including new students feeling overwhelmed by housing options, housing complications due to studying abroad and the safety this site offers.

“I get at least one student a year in my office that is really upset because they got scammed on Craigslist and lost like $1000,” Burns said. “By having a site that is more regulated and costs landlords money to post on, we are hoping that it will discourage scammers.”

Burns saw similarities with this online resource and others that students are already familiar with.

“It’s like combining Craigslist, and all of the different Facebook housing groups out there into one site,” she said.

The marketplace combines all the rental listings from private landlords, like you might see on Craigslist. Not only that, but property management listings, which you usually have to go to their website to see. Students will also be able to privately post and search roommate profiles, rooms available and lease takeovers, Burns said.

Jeremy Schmidt, the chief marketing officer of Rent College Pads, said Western was a viable partner because of its aggressive off-campus market.

“We feel like we can do a lot of good and help a lot of students compare places to live and understand what they are getting into,” he said.

Schmidt said that safety is often overlooked in many other online marketplaces.

“We want to give students the ability to be informed and the university the ability to work with students to keep them educated on safety,” he said.

Rent College Pads is different from the other off-campus housing resources because only students will have access to most of the site, except for the public portion where landlords can pay to be featured in public ads.

“There is much less chance of getting scammed or someone posting roommate wanted ads that maybe isn’t a safe person. There are more barriers to posting scams,” Burns said.

Corbin Benson, the leasing manager of Elevate Bellingham, owned by Nelson Partners Student Housing, said the company had to partner with Rent College Pads in order to be featured in Western’s housing fair.

Benson said the complex pays Rent College Pads about $500 a month to keep the partnership.

Students at Western are able to access the site through their universal logins, then students have the ability to use the filters that range from roommate finders, rooms for rent, short term-rental leases and the amenities of those locations, Burns said.

For more information about moving off-campus, the off-campus housing office is hosting a Housing and Hashbrowns event on Feb. 22. At the event, students can learn about how to find a place, how to sign a lease and their rights and responsibilities as renters.

The off-campus housing office will be emailing surveys to students about landlord experiences and posting those results on the off-campus living website. Burns urges students who have rented before to fill out the survey. The reviews will be distilled into overall rankings from one to five on various measures like customer service, cleanliness of public spaces, upkeep of building, speed of repairs, etc. No landlords will be able to see individual comments or ratings.

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