After a bad experience renting a house in Conesus Lake, two Geneseo seniors, Ken Laughlin and Alexandra Pifher, decided to take action. The original concept for grademylandlord.com was a joke, but after a few weeks of discussion the two began to develop the idea into a reality.
According to Laughlin, they took several months to research Web site building and to search for an affordable Web designer before the site was created.
Grademylandlord.com contains interactive features that allow students to both assess their landlord as well as post ads for roommates for upcoming semesters. The Web site also contains areas for property owners to advertise houses and apartments currently for rent. After 15 to 20 days of advertising across campus, the site now receives between 20 and 30 visitors per day.
The duo has received mostly positive feedback from Geneseo students. Pifher noted that the Web site's intention is to help students first. "I think that this is a good way for students to realize that they have choices," said Laughlin.
"I really like this idea," said sophomore Kelley Rehkugler. "Not only does it let students voice their frustrations, but it allows other students to make more informed decisions about their living arrangements."
The grades on the site are listed by property name rather than the name of the landlord for the sake of anonymity and protection from legal repercussions. Laughlin said that many landlords in the area were defensive about the Web site when he contacted them to solicit advertising. "It's hard to enter the landlord market in Geneseo because they are unwilling to try something new," said Laughlin.
Despite this tension, not all of the grades that appear have been negative. Graphs on the Web site demonstrate that the bulk of the grades are either "As" or "Fs."
Laughlin and Pifher have many plans for the future of this project. The first improvement will be the addition of comment boxes on the grading page for students to express further opinions. However, they also hope to expand the Web site into the Rochester area. The plan is to stick with university settings such as U of R or RIT. The main reason why they are targeting this audience is to alleviate some of the stress and confusion many students feel when signing a lease for the first time.