Update on landlord rating site


I just talked to Kurt Gosselin, one of the leaders of a campaign to get a landlord rating site for student tenants. After it was approve last Spring, the project is still not off the ground, but Gosselin hopes that will change after he and Danny Spirn meet with officials from the UW legal department, ASM financial staff and the Office of the Dean of Students a week from today.

When the project was approved by the Student Council last March, $5000 was budgeted to pay the contractor who would build the site. The contract was won by Hardin Design and Development, whose Vice President, Scott Resnick, assured me that $5000 is a bargain for a top-notch website.

When I asked Gosselin why it had taken so long, he said that while he had been surprised by the amount of red tape in the site’s way, there were many legitimate concerns that need to be addressed before the site goes up. UW is concerned about liability –– could a landlord who is slandered on the site sue ASM or the university for libel? Moreover, talk of putting ads on the site generated another legal discussion which rather bluntly concluded that, according to Segregated Fee by-laws, no site funded by student segregated fees can generate revenue.

However, the problem that remains to be resolved is the site’s finances. The money budgeted for the project came from the previous ASM session. The money was not re-newed this year, which, according to Gosselin, means ASM will have to find money by scraping off unused funds from other line items or it will have to apply for “additional budget authority” from the university. In such a case, the university would OK additional spending with the recognition that not all money in the ASM budget will be spent; that the project will not take student government into debt.

Gosselin believes the Feb. 12 meeting will be the tipping point for the project’s success. By getting all relevant actors in one room, Gosselin thinks much of the confusion over rules and regulations will be sorted out. However, the question I would ask is, if it’s taken so long, simple confusion and red tape may not be the only issues. Have we ruled out possible resistance or opposition to the plan? It could prove to be a controversial project –– there are definitely people who would like to see it disappear.

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4 Responses to “Update on landlord rating site”

  1. Scott Says:

    I want to clarify a few points noted within the project proposal:

    Several security measures were requested in the project RFP to mitigate the risk to property managers. From the technical side, the site includes the ability to alert a property managers of new posts, users can flag inapporiate comments, and IP addresses can be monitored/banned. There is also a system in place to review controversial posts – essentially a human litmus test.

    Second, there was no mention of site advertising in the final proposal. I believe there was a very brief discuss during an ASM meeting, but never heard another word. I thought it died at the meeting.

    Hope this clears up a few questions/concerns.

  2. Beyond the Talking Points Says:

    I would like to reiterate the bargain that $5000 is for this production. Other bids sought reached as high as $35,000 which vastly exceeded the available amount of funding available from ASM for the project.

    Also, Hardin Design and Development has provided detailed plans on how to protect liability for the service. I am confident that once these plans are provided to University Legal in a setting where a back-and-forth exchange of questions and answers can occur that there will not be an issue moving forward.

    Also, there has been no indication of a conspiracy since the project was proposed, and I am confident that this meeting will move the project forward without issue.

  3. Robert Says:

    This isn’t exactly the same thing, but there is a new website called CollegeDormRatingz.com you may want to check out.

    There are also a lot of rating and review websites for various things listed at the Rating and Review Professional Association, RARPA.org. Did anyone consult RARPA about building this site?

  4. Tommy Says:

    There’s another site that might be doing something similar called: http://mylandlordscore.com

    you should definitely check it out.

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