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Website helps college students find fair rent

Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 00:12

A graduate from Brown University has designed a new web tool to help students find the best deal for off-campus housing.

Zoe Chaves, who graduated last May with a degree in Architectural Studies that focuses on urban planning, has been interested in housing issues for a while.

Her tool not only keeps track of shared expenses and IOUs between roommates, but it also includes an average-rent and a split-the-rent calculator.

“On campus housing is expensive at UConn,” Chaves said, “Huskies can save $2,000 to $4,000 a year by moving off-campus.”

She said her tool helps students weigh their options and make a more sensible housing decision.

“That could mean getting more roommates, shacking up with a significant other or taking on a part-time job to afford a one-bedroom apartment,” Chaves said.

The tool calculates average prices of housing in a certain area when you enter the zip code you are looking for.

It also calculates how much money you would save in a given situation.

“I could see the tool being a good jumping-off point for having a tricky conversation with a landlord or even a parent,” said Chaves, “If a landlord is telling you that $600 per bedroom is a good price for the area and you have data telling you otherwise, pointing to the tool is a non-confrontational way to ask them to reconsider their asking price, or throw in a perk like an extra parking spot.”

The web tool is located on Splitwise, which asks for feedback from users on this project. Students can direct their comments to


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