Barr Real Estate voids fall ’08 student leases

The apartment building at 105 E. Clark Street on Wednesday. Erica Magda

The apartment building at 105 E. Clark Street on Wednesday. Erica Magda

By Stephanie Benhart

After signing leases for next fall, students who planned on living at two Champaign properties still find themselves without housing arrangements for the coming school year.

The two properties at 105 E. White St. and 105 E. Clark St., owned by the City of Champaign and managed by Barr Real Estate, must be vacated to make room for the city’s Boneyard Creek Second Street Detention Project, said Eleanor Blackmon, assistant city engineer.

“We plan to start construction in 2009, and we need the buildings empty,” she said.

The city purchased the properties in 2000 and Barr Real Estate has managed them since then.

The Boneyard Creek Detention project will use the locations to control storm water and create neighborhood green space, Blackmon said.

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    The city thought they had given Barr verbal notification last fall not to enter into any more lease agreements, “but that’s the problem with verbal notification,” Blackmon said.

    Barr was given formal notice in February, after an unknown number of leases had been signed, she said.

    Blackmon added it was her understanding that Barr is assisting those who signed leases.

    Barr declined to comment on the situation until given further information from the city.

    Esther Patt, coordinator for the Tenant Union, said they started hearing from students regarding the situation about three weeks ago.

    Patt after the mls listings delray beach said if a landlord signs a lease and is unable to honor that contract, then the lessor is liable for monetary damages incurred from the breeching of that contract.

    “Monetary damages include the difference in rent for a comparable apartment if the tenant has to spend more money for an apartment,” Patt said.

    She added this does not mean students should go out and automatically sign a lease for a more expensive apartment. Students have to prove that they must spend more on the new apartment, adding that students need to be careful about “comparable.”

    Additional costs that could be covered under “monetary damages” may include the moving expenses for tenants currently living in the apartments that they had re-signed for next year. If the contract had not been breached, they would not have to pay these costs. Additionally, Patt said some of these apartments are unfurnished, so hiring a mover may be necessary in some instances.

    Patt added that students do not receive compensation for the hassle of shopping for apartments again. This is something she said she feels should be included but is difficult to make the landlord do.

    “We’ve been referring any inquiries (about compensation) to Student Legal Services,” she said.