Thousands of Aggies are stuck in leasing contracts for the remainder of the spring semester despite the shift to online classes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With only 11,000 students residing on campus, that leaves approximately 48,000 students living in off-campus housing in College Station. Many students have been unable to return to their off-campus homes after Spring Break, because they were returning from COVID-19 hotspots or choosing to quarantine at their permanent residences with family. However, most properties in Bryan-College Station are still requiring residents to pay rent and utilities for the remainder of their leasing contract, even if they choose to move out early.
American Campus, which is the national company that manages Callaway Villas, the Callaway House, Aggie Station, U Centre at Northgate and U Club Townhomes, released an official press statement on March 23 that stated they will continue to support their residents during the coronavirus outbreak and will work with those experiencing financial hardship. The statement said they will temporarily be waiving all late fees and financial-related eviction proceedings. However, residents are not allowed to terminate their leases early.
“We have the contractual lease obligation to house students for the entire term of the lease, while students always have the freedom to physically occupy their apartments as they choose,” American Campus said in the statement. “In the case of this evolving COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed and are contractually obligated to provide housing for our residents… We are not offering lease terminations and refunds at private off-campus apartment communities."
Peak Campus, the management company for The Hudson, Berkley House, Gateway at College Station, 2818 Place and Parkway Place, informed residents via email they have closed their leasing offices and amenity spaces until further notice. Peak Campus released an official statement on March 18 saying they have limited maintenance requests at all of their properties to only emergency maintenance requests, and they will be waiving ACH processing fees for online rent payment to help ease the financial burden some residents may be facing as a result of the coronavirus. However, Peak Campus said leases cannot be terminated despite the current global situation, even if the resident is sick and cannot stay in their apartment due to quarantine.
"We know this is a difficult time for everyone, but we are unable to cancel leases,” Peak Campus said in the statement. “Our community operates separately from the University, and as a result, school closings do not impact our operations. Our community will continue to operate and provide housing for our residents who choose to continue to remain living in their apartment home."
The Dinerstein Companies, the national company that manages Aspire and Sterling Northgate properties in Bryan-College Station, also is not allowing students to end their leases early. A statement on the company’s website said if a student is unable to pay their rent due to hardships from the coronavirus, residents should reach out to their community managers directly to discuss their options.
"We understand that some residents may be experiencing hardships, and we will work to review this on a case by case basis,” the statement read. “Residents will be required to provide documentation confirming the hardship imposed by COVID-19."
All of these properties have notified residents that they are practicing CDC cleaning guidelines, according to their respective websites. Students should reach out to their leasing offices directly via telephone or email if they have questions about the terms of their lease.