A picture from the webpage MyStudentQuarters.com, which is being developed by three University of New England students to help connect students with local landlords who are amenable to student needs. Credit: Courtesy | MyStudentQuarters | Journal Tribune

Every now and then somebody comes up with a great idea that is a revolutionary way to solve a long standing problem and that’s exactly what a group of college students attending the University of New England in Biddeford are attempting to do.

Jessica Rehrig, a second-year medical student at UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, said that a series of negative experiences in finding suitable student housing led her and two other students, Sohrab Jamshidi and Raul Cuevas, to create and develop a new website called My Student Quarters that connects reputable landlords with students seeking decent and affordable housing.

“My Student Quarters is an end-to-end solution for Student Housing. We serve as a marketplace connecting student tenants and local landlords, but go a step further to manage the entire relationship throughout the term of the lease,” Rehrig said. “We help facilitate a connection, maintain an open line of communication, provide safety and security by verifying students and background-checking landlords, and serve largely as an organizational tool for everything a student tenant living off-campus and a campus-area landlord may need.”

She said the website was the culmination and result of numerous bad experiences many students have endured while looking for suitable places to live while attending college.

“A huge issue for the community and students alike is there is not a safe, cheap site to find and post housing and we are hoping to solve that problem,” Rehrig said.

According to Rehrig, the My Student Quarters platform not only connects students with landlords, but it also connects students with students.

“We created filters for both house searching and roommate searching to help students and landlords fill a house if students are new to the school or don’t know where to find other students currently looking for a place to rent,” she said. “Rentals are not just limited to realtors or seasoned landlords, we want to encourage community members who have spare rooms or vacation homes to rent through our site too.”

By doing that, Rehrig said it will add more lease length flexibility for students looking to rent shorter periods of time. It will also integrate the local community with their students and will help create housing for those areas facing housing shortages for off-campus students.

“We’re offering free photography services for landlords who need photos taken of their rentals,” she said.

My Student Quarters will use a subscription and commission model in its platform, but rates are discounted for UNE students.

“We are planning on expanding after UNE, and have already gotten some interest from other universities,” Rehrig said. “We’re hoping to revolutionize the off-campus housing rental experience.”

She said the current tracking system numerous colleges use to recommend off-campus student housing is a spread sheet that passes down information about good and bad housing. The new website will be beneficial as it will be digital and both student renters and landlords will be verified through background screens.

“It’s all about making sure that students are safe and secure,” Rehrig said.

The best part of creating the new site for Rehrig is seeing the enthusiasm for the project grow.

“We’re learning how excited the students are to be able to have this,” Rehrig said. “The challenging part for me is that starting a company has its ups and downs. Our launch is working with UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine first.”

Jamshidi is a futurist and manages strategic planning, forecasting and budget development for the My Student Quarters corporation.

Cuevas describes himself as a “Growth Hacker” and manages all technical development of the My Student Quarters site and future apps.

The My Student Quarters website is hoping to launch in March 2018, Rehrig said.