Students at the University of Connecticut will have access to a website that helps students find off-campus housing starting this spring.
Rent College Pads compiles listings from landlords in Mansfield and other towns near UConn. The site provides information about each listing, a way to contact the landlord and other services, such as a roommate finder.
“We want to provide one resource that kind of has everything,” Rent College Pads Marketing Director Jeremy Schmidt said.
The site tries to make the process of finding a place to live easier by having this information available to students in one place.
The founder of Rent College Pads, Dominic Anzalone, first thought of the idea when he was searching for housing in college and had trouble finding it. He was an entrepreneur major and started to develop this idea, according to Schmidt.
“Essentially our company started as a class project for him,” Schmidt said.
The website officially launched in 2013, and has added housing opportunities for nearly 70 schools around the country, according to Schmidt.
The site seeks to make the process easier for landlords as well as students. Employees of the site try to find out what struggles the landlords face and how they can be of service to them too.
Currently Rent College Pads has contacted 20 to 30 landlords around UConn, according to Schmidt.
“We’re working very aggressively to make sure we can get as many landlords on board as possible,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said the site wants to give students a greater ability to compare housing options and having more overall control over their housing search.
“Our big differentiator is that we want to provide students with more choices,” Schmidt said.
UConn offers its own Off-Campus Student Services office as a resource for students who live off-campus or hope to in the near future.
Nearly half of all UConn students (undergraduate and graduate) live off-campus, according to John Armstrong, the Director of Off-Campus Student Services,
Most students choose to live on campus during their freshman year, but students typically begin thinking about moving off-campus during the second semester of their sophomore year, Armstrong said.
“This is when we see the most substantial change in students choosing to move off campus,” Armstrong said.
According to Armstrong, Off-Campus Student Services provides different resources for students looking to find houses, including: one-on-one consultations with students, a Housing Database, a Housing Guide and an Off-Campus Housing Fair.
“The nuances of renting and living off campus for first-time renters can be challenging,” Armstrong said.
According to Armstrong, the relationships that Off-Campus Student Services develops with landlords are beneficial to students because they are able to help students resolve any concerns in their off campus living environment.
Jessica Arias is a first-semester pathobiology major at UConn who currently lives in an off-campus apartment. She said the process of searching for an apartment was very long and she did all the research herself.
“I pretty much looked online, looked in newspapers, and then just, eventually, after just researching for months, I found a cheap apartment that I could afford,” Arias said.
Arias said a website like Rent College Pads would have been helpful.
“It would have probably saved me a lot of time [instead of] researching myself. Because right there, I could have probably looked at the prices and looked at how close it was to the university,” Arias said.
Schmidt said the site is always using feedback from students to improve the website.
The site has put in place ideas that originally came from users, such as a filter of houses and apartments as well as a roommate finder, Schmidt said.
“All we’re trying to do is help out students,” Schmidt said.
Amanda Cabral is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org