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Website aims to make subletting painfree – The Penn State Daily Collegian


Website aims to make subletting painfree

By Nelson Oliveira
For the Collegian

Whether it’s because of a December graduation, studying abroad or transferring to another campus, many students try to sublet their rooms or apartments every year.

After having trouble freeing themselves from inflexible lease contracts, three brothers — two undergraduate students and one alumnus of Indiana University — launched their own website to make college subletting more efficient.

 The search filters on the website allow people to sort apartments by location, price and term. Students can also search for roommates by gender, school year and personality type — including actual categories like nerdy, hippie, party animal, clean, dirty and socialite.

Michael, James and Nicholas Bellavia of Deerfield, Ill., launched on Oct. 16. They intended to start with only Indiana University, but after friends from around the country volunteered to promote the business at their colleges, the website now covers seven campuses.

Penn State was added to the list about a week ago and already has the highest number of posts of residents seeking subletters, with 132 at press time, while Indiana has 26.

The success of the website at Penn State can be attributed partially to the marketing work of Penn State student Jamie Lavin.

“There were no intentions to include Penn State in the website so soon, but Penn State is the perfect market for this,” Lavin (sophomore-marketing) said.

The idea of developing the website originated from James Bellavia, who was forced into signing a lease contract for the 2010-11 academic year even though he’s graduating in December. He browsed through Craigslist and other websites to find apartments that would only require him to pay one semester’s worth of rent, but his search was unsuccessful, he said.

“I was trying to find a way to share a lease with someone who was going abroad,” James said. “I spent two to three hours everyday searching for posts on the Internet.”

Now, James Bellavia is trying to find someone to sublet his apartment in the spring so he doesn’t have to pay rent for a place that will be empty for an entire semester, he said.

With the help of his brothers, James Bellavia developed the website so “people don’t have to experience this costly and grueling process,” he said.

Penn State student Kendra Taylor, who spent weeks trying to find someone to move into a room in her house, said My College Sublets is better than most apartment listing websites because it focuses on students and has a comprehensive search filter.

“It’s much more narrowed than Craigslist and oriented to students,” Taylor (junior-international politics) said. “But a lot of posts don’t have pictures. People want to see a picture of the place before they contact [the resident].”

Michael Bellavia, who’s now in charge of operating the new business, said he experienced the sublet problem when he was in college after he got sick and had to drop out of college, but was still paying rent.

“There are a lot of scenarios where kids need to leave their place,” Michael said. “And with the inflexibility of lease contracts, students are losing out on opportunities to save money.”

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