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GSC Launches Off-Campus Housing Web Site

MIT students looking for off-campus housing may find a home thanks to a new Web site called Rent Monkey. The site is a project of the Graduate Student Council’s Housing and Community Affairs committee.

Rent Monkey, available online for people with MIT certificates at http://rentmonkey.mit.edu/, shows where current MIT students live on an interactive map, and it allows students to comment on places they have lived in the past. Students can also add housing listings to the map.

The site is meant to complement the Housing Office’s existing off-campus housing site, according to Linda L. Patton, Assistant Director of Off Campus Housing. The existing site provides access to a database of off-campus apartments for rent to the MIT community.

Robert Y. Wang G, co-chair of the HCA committee and Rent Monkey’s developer, said he designed the site because he was frustrated with existing options for off-campus housing. Realtors on Craigslist often use “bait and switch” tactics, he said, in which they post inaccurate listings to lure potential renters into calling them.

Real estate broker’s fees are especially costly for students who only want to inhabit an apartment for the school year, Wang said.

Wang hopes that Rent Monkey will provide a more trustworthy rental market because access is restricted to MIT certificate holders.

Although the site has been launched, many kinks still need to be worked out, said Wang. An e-mail advertising the site will soon be sent out to all students living off campus, he said.

Currently, about 250 students have submitted profiles to the site. People using the Rent Monkey Web site can add their housing profiles and peruse other students’ housing experiences.

— Nick Bushak