The outbreak of the coronavirus in the Bryan-College Station area has affected move-in dates as well as student residents’ ability to pay rent this summer.
As well as changes to class times and campus functions, students are currently facing other challenges. It was speculated that with the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Brazos County, local tenants would struggle to be able to pay their rent.
Texas A&M students international studies junior Michelle Pappoe and communication junior Chloe Calvert are roommates currently renting an apartment in College Station. Their rent prices have not changed, and though Pappoe said she has had no trouble paying rent, Calvert said it has become more difficult for her to pay her share. Calvert’s difficulties began in May and continued into June.
“It was in June that I literally emailed our landlord and was like ‘I will pay you in like, three days, I promise, that’s when I get paid,’” Calvert said. “So there’s been two months where it’s been paycheck to paycheck for me.”
Calvert works as a marketing assistant for the Division of Student Affairs at A&M. Her financial hardships were the result of reduced hours at her workplace due to COVID-19.
“My hours were mega-reduced. Even though I was still able to work bi-weekly, I didn’t even make enough to cover rent,” Calvert said.
Other students have experienced difficulties with changing move-in dates. Engineering sophomore Dylan Neitsch is renting an apartment off campus this fall and said his move-in date has changed several times due to complications with COVID-19. He said his current move-in date is Aug. 14, five days before classes begin.
“Initially, my move-in date would have been much later,” Neitsch said. “It’s extremely frustrating to deal with a constantly shifting schedule. It’s not only difficult to manage my apartment schedule, but [my] school schedule is changing, and it’s definitely throwing off [my] basic plan. It’s difficult to keep track of.”
Local landlord Robert Averyt owns several homes for rent near campus and said he hasn’t changed any rent prices due to early planning and working ahead before COVID-19 came to the area.
“We always work really hard to pre-lease our homes early,” Averyt said. “We catch the students who are way ahead of the curve, that are looking for properties early on. We work with exceptional tenants that like to plan ahead. We pre-lease all of our properties in January the year before, and all of our stuff was pre-leased before COVID-19 hit.”
Averyt said all of his tenants are either students or faculty at Texas A&M University, but that this has not seemed to affect their financial living situations.
“I am unaware of any of our tenants having difficulty paying their rent,” Averyt said. “I would hope and expect our tenants to understand that if they were having financial hard times, that we’re in the same boat. We still have property taxes and insurance and maintenance repairs that we have to cover. We had these expenses before COVID and we’ll have them after COVID.”
Averyt also said property taxes have heavily increased throughout the COVID-19 season, and encouraged Bryan-College Station residents to help students through this time.
“I think this COVID-19 has been a wake up call to our community.,” Averyt said. “One positive outcome I’m hoping for after all this is said and done [is] I’m hoping our city officials will appreciate our student population once things get back to normal.”
The Bryan-College Station area depends on Texas A&M students, Averyt said, and local leaders owe appreciation to the students and should make efforts to ensure they’re staying in the region.
“The name of this town is College Station. We always go back to that. We’ve got college kids we need to respect,” Averyt said. “[The students] spend a whole lot of money in our community, and I think our city officials are waking up to how important [the students’] dollars are, and we need to accommodate [them].”