Earlier this month TRUSU launched its new independent housing registry service. The service, which is free of charge, is meant to connect landlords with students.
Created by Vancouver web design and development company Forge and Smith, the housing registry also contains a few features that you won’t be able to find on Kijiji or similar listing sites, says Samantha Baker, TRUSU’s vice-president services.
“It gives landlords the opportunity to only talk with students specifically. So it opens the floor to them,” Baker said. “It also lets students see the distance from TRU to the house, which is a great option.”
In addition to letting students see the distance from the university to the rental unit, the registry also shows all the bus routes in the city and the best way to access them. This gives students without a vehicle the opportunity to properly see if their house or apartment of choice is a good fit, says Baker.
Though TRUSU had a housing registry in the past, that service’s programming became old and was eventually shut down by the company that operated it. That was about three years ago says Cassandra Ring-Hall, TRUSU’s services coordinator.
Despite this, the previous service was incredibly successful and the creation of a new housing registry was only a matter of time. Yet creating a new program and learning from the flaws of the old one isn’t easy, says Baker.
“It takes a long time to create a program that works specifically for students that is effective,” Baker said. “A lot of research from the previous program was used to see what students were searching for. The key searches were price and distance from campus. Knowing those features, we had to research and look into it, which takes time as well.”
In addition to the new service’s updated features, TRUSU has also taken to stringently screening all prospective landlords.
“We screen all our landlords that come through,” Baker said. “Any housing that they want posted on there, it goes through a screening process so that there is more security. That way students aren’t running into scams and other strange people messaging them for those reasons.”
Landlords who wish to post on the registry must first send the Students’ Union all the information on the unit they wish to rent out. Then, TRUSU conducts research by looking at ads for the property on other sites to confirm it isn’t a scam.
The housing registry also allows students to look for roommates as well, says Baker.
“It is also for roommates too, not just rentals. So room shares with other students, and it gives you the information of the people you might room with,” Baker said. “So if it’s like a 50 year old couple who are looking to share a room with a student, then they know it’s two males and one female and gives them an idea of the dynamics and what they are going into before even emailing them.”
Though the program has only been active for just over a month, it has already seen significant use. According to Baker, the registry has about an average of 18 ads running consistently.
“We’ve had a huge influx, because as soon as somebody posts, they rent it out and then they delete their ad,” she said. “But when one leaves, another pops up, so we’ve had about 25 ads throughout.”
You can check out TRUSU’s housing registry here.