UCSB students and faculty can rate their landlords online this year on the Associated Students Legal Resource Center evaluation web page.

LRC Attorney Dallas Atkins said the majority of complaints handled by the center are landlord-tenant problems.

“I think students, as tenants, should have a voice to speak up about what their experience was in any particular rental,” she said.

Students can rate their landlords with online evaluation forms. Atkins said open-ended comment sessions would not be allowed because of concerns about libel lawsuits. Still, she said, the evaluation will be an improvement over older forms that simply averaged ratings by providing individual data on each place.

Not everyone has the time to go knocking on doors to find their next place to live, Atkins said. With the housing evaluations, busy students will be provided a new tool in the search.

“What’s hard is to find the really great landlords in the really great places,” she said. “If someone goes online and has great things to say about a landlord, that’s going to be noticed.”

“Sometimes [apartments] are in good condition, and the landlord is very responsive to requests for repairs. At the same time, many of the students I see are not telling that story to me. That’s because they’re having a different experience.”

The LRC came up with the idea Fall Quarter in a meeting with Isla Vista Community Relations Committee representatives, the Isla Vista Tenants Union, the Santa Barbara Housing Co-op and the Community Housing Office.

Although the web page will be ready soon, Atkins said it is still in a test phase. No landlord evaluations are yet online.

“It’s an experimental thing, and we really want to see if it will be useful,” she said. “If it’s not useful, we won’t continue it. If people don’t use it, it will be much less useful.”

The page is linked to the LRC website at http://www.as.ucsb.edu/aslrc.

– Eric Simons