Demand for student housing drives lease signing dates earlier

By Meghan O'Kelly

Less than a month into the fall semester, some students are focusing on where they will be living next fall.

Lease-signing season officially begins Oct. 1, but there is no single time when all properties will be available, said Esther Patt, coordinator of the Tenant Union. Patt added that some landlords begin leasing Nov. 1.

“It’s very dangerous to a tenant to sign a lease 10 months before moving in,” Patt said. “It’s very unkind to a tenant to force a tenant to make a renewal decision so early.”

Miriam Booth, general manager of Bankier Apartments, 406 E. Green St., said notices will be mailed to tenants this week asking about renewal, with unrenewed properties available Oct. 1 for showing and leasing. Booth said the company is trying to work with tenants who take longer to decide about their renewal.

“It’s a very hectic schedule, and I think it’s the same for tenants,” Booth said. “I think it’s difficult for everybody.”

Booth said she has been getting calls for two weeks regarding next year’s leasing and thinks the market has driven the signing date to Oct. 1.

Tom Gillespie, owner of Roland Realty, said his leasing dates vary depending on demand.

“The public typically places a higher demand on houses, larger apartments and newer buildings,” Gillespie said.

He added that lease signing has begun on some of Roland’s 70 houses; apartments will follow on Oct. 1.

“A lot of people signing at this time are very focused on where they want to live,” he said. “I haven’t seen any ill effects.”

Patt cautioned students to carefully choose their roommates before signing a lease. Students who do not come back to campus, study abroad or squabble with roommates present the most issues after leases are signed.

Booth agreed.

“If it’s a four-bedroom unit, the chances are higher that someone will have a problem during that 10-month time,” she said. “I think it’s a bad idea to sign without having all the roommates on board.”

Laura Beschorner, sophomore in Business, has looked at potential properties online and began visiting apartments over the weekend.

“It’s kind of scary,” Beschorner said. “It’s good to know that you will know where you’ll live at the same time.”

The Tenant Union will be holding educational programs in the University Residence Halls detailing what to look for in a lease, why landlord complaint records are important, how to find places and how to deal with the lease signing process.

“It’s extremely foolish to sign a lease without checking the landlord’s complaint record,” Patt said. “Students should find out who this company is that they’re going to be doing business with.”