Bunuel wrote:

Political Candidate: The average apartment in nearby Saratoga Springs rents for $1,400 per month, while the average apartment here in Trenchard Falls rents for over $1,600. It is unacceptable that the average renter in Trenchard Falls pays more for housing than her neighbors in Saratoga Springs do!

Which of the following, if true, would expose a flaw in the candidate's reasoning?

A. The housing commission in Saratoga Springs has instituted rent-increase limits in an attempt to control the rising housing costs for its residents.

B. In both regional and national magazines, Trenchard Falls consistently ranks as one of the most desirable places to live in the area.

C. Residents of Trenchard Falls are more than twice as likely to live with roommates than are residents of Saratoga Springs.

D. Because rents have increased in Trenchard Falls, several new apartment complexes are under construction in an attempt to meet demand.

E. Rent is increasing at a faster rate in Saratoga Springs than in Trenchard Falls.

VERITAS PREP OFFICIAL SOLUTION:

This problem exemplifies a common Strengthen/Weaken structure when prompts involve data: the data given (the average rental cost of an apartment) is very related to but just slightly different from the data in the conclusion (that the average renter pays more). Note that these are two different metrics: what the average apartment costs vs. what the average renter pays.

Correct choice (C) shows why this is a gap: what if almost everyone in Trenchard Falls has a roommate (or several), but very few people in Saratoga Springs does? That would mean that the average $1600 rent in Trenchard Falls gets split between multiple people, whereas the average $1400 rent in Saratoga Springs is paid by only one person. At that point renters in Trenchard Falls would pay much less than their neighbors the next town over. Choice (C) attacks that gap between "average apartment" and "average renter" and is therefore correct.

Among the other choices:

If anything, (A) strengthens the conclusion by showing that Saratoga Springs has taken an active (limiting rent increases) step toward keeping rent down.

(B) does have some merit as it shows a potential reason why Trenchard Falls rent may be expensive, but note that you don't have a comparison to Saratoga Springs which could also rank high on those lists. Since the conclusion is a direct comparison between the two cities, merely knowing that there is demand for housing in one doesn't help you better understand that comparison.

(D) suggests a reason that someday rent might come down in Trenchard Falls (more supply), but note that the politician's conclusion is about the current state of affairs, for one, and that just adding more supply doesn't mean it will be more affordable supply.

And (E) similarly talks about the future, suggesting that rent in Saratoga Springs may soon catch up, but again the conclusion is about the present.

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