Our favorite student slum has finally found a way to stay one step ahead of the landlords, who make a killing off of people willing to pay whatever it takes to be able to walk to campus. Isla Vista residents have long been at the mercy of landlords who know they can charge nearly anything for any room and find a willing spender to sign the lease.
Now, thanks to UCSB Senior James McGuire, residents have a way to organize. Last year, McGuire launched ivliving.com, a Web site that allows tenants to post reviews, warnings, or praises of good and bad landlords. After all, if ratemyprofessors.com can tell students what classes to take, and rottentomatoes.com tells them what films to see, ivliving.com fills another void of information by creating reputations among landlords that aim to affect business.
“There are some great landlords,” said McGuire, making assurances that the site is not just a sounding board for angry, overpaying students. “You can see them on our site.” There are also, however, some inarguably not-so-great landlords according to I.V. residents. McGuire does not hope that his site will create boycotts of these negligent property managers, but rather inspire the management side of renting in I.V. to clean up its act. “If enough people are hesitant to rent from a bad landlord,” he says, “they will have to change their ways to make money.”
McGuire was inspired to create the site in the wake of a bad experience with a less-than-professional landlord who made him realize that some were “taking advantage of students living on their own in I.V. for the first time.” If all goes well, ivliving.com will force responsibility onto lessors, and provide an opportunity for bad policies to catch up with their creators.
The response has already been very positive, McGuire said. Parents in particular are thankful for the site, and happy that their money will hopefully now be spent on higher quality housing. The advertising for the site has been largely word of mouth. Anyone can post a review, and reviews are filtered for profanity and monitored to discourage purely abusive articles.
If all goes well, McGuire hopes that the site will provide a way for students to help each other out. The senior computer science major is happy to have created something that he hopes will strengthen the I.V. community.
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Sam Rolens is an Independent intern.