Many UCSB and SBCC students are excited about the prospect of living in Isla Vista next year – that is, if they can find a place and pay for it.

According to representatives from several local rental agencies, apartments have filled up earlier this year than in previous years, and rent is more expensive. Of the apartments at St. George and Associates, for example, 80 percent have already been rented out for the next year, and at KAMAP Property Management, 40 percent have been leased. According to the UCSB Community Housing Office, rent has remained stable, though various I.V. rental agencies said their monthly rates have increased.

Although students have started their housing search for the 2007-08 school year earlier than usual, a St. George and Associates representative said there is still plenty of housing available for interested renters.

“People create the panic that you have to rent in January,” a representative said. “There are still a lot of apartments available in I.V.”

Third-year music composition major Alexis Crawshaw, who lives in a Bartlein & Co.-owned property, recommends that house hunters begin looking early in Winter Quarter, but said that all hope is not lost for those who wait longer.

“The best places go really quickly and you have to be on top of your game,” Crawshaw said. “But we found our place we live in now three weeks into Winter Quarter.”

KAMAP representative Paul Warkinten said students looking for an apartment should be prepared to pay between 3 and 7 percent more than last year. Warkinten said price increases are “basic economics when it comes to renting apartments.”

He said one-bedroom apartments from KAMAP run from $1,225 to $1,445 per month, two-bedroom apartments run from $2,450 to $2,700 per month and three-bedroom apartments start at $3,930 per month.

Rental agencies decide prices for the year based on various factors, including what other landlords charge in their area, the location of the house and the amenities included.

Karla Rosa, a representative from the Isla Vista Tenants Union, said there are a variety of landlords charging both fair and unfair prices in I.V.

“A lot of landlords are genuine and try to provide legal housing, but there are also a lot that take advantage of students,” Rosa said. “Since so many people want to live in I.V., landlords are able to be more liberal in what they charge.”

Crawshaw said she has found that moderately priced and well-maintained apartments are still available in I.V. She said the rental company makes a significant difference in quality and cost.

“It is still possible to find places in great locations for a reasonable price,” Crawshaw said. “Some companies like Bartlein are known to have reasonable rent.”

Erik Heiser, a graduating senior who has lived in I.V. for four years, said he feels that the increase in rent has been significant – but he still recommends living in the beachside community.

“[Living in I.V.] is worth it in my opinion. … It’s a jewel,” Heiser said.