Lease signing dates may move to February

By Lauren Laws

Apartment hunting season usually begins mid-to-late fall for most students, with signing dates not too far behind. Next fall though, students may be able to wait a couple of months until they have to make that critical decision.

The Illinois Student Senate is working on a resolution that would prohibit landlords from leasing or resigning any properties before February.

“Most landlords give tenants renewal deadlines in late September or early October,” said Esther Patt, Tenant Union coordinator. “This creates the problem since it’s so early and people have just moved in and are being asked whether they are going to keep the place for next year.”

This year, most landlords gave renewal dates to their tenants in October, yet some pushed the day forward to Sept. 25. Landlords begin showing apartments shortly thereafter.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Patt believes that showing apartments this early places pressure on students to sign early.

“Lease signing for new tenants doesn’t start earlier than Oct. 1,” Patt said. “A majority of students haven’t signed by Nov. 1, but most have probably heard from somewhere that you’re supposed to.”

The student senate agrees that having students sign leases early in the fall is a problem.

“It’s stressful for freshmen,” said Sean Mills, chair of the governmental affair committee for student senate and junior in Business. “They’re just getting here and know their roommate for less than a month. They shouldn’t have a stressful environment right away. We’re only pushing back the lease signings to where market originally had it.”

In 1996, a few landlords first began pushing forward the renewal dates to December as a way to beat competition, Patt said. This caused their tenants to panic who called other landlords to see when they would begin showing their properties. Those landlords panicked when they realized that the competition was one step ahead and therefore pushed forward their renewal dates. Over the years, the effect has snowballed.

Some students are concerned with early singing dates for roommate reasons.

“There’s not a lot of time to find people you want to live with,” said Mike Schneberg, senior in LAS. “You’re stuck with whoever is around or with who else is currently looking. You kind of have to get lucky.”

Patt explained that when students sign a lease 10 months in advance, they don’t know if they are going to be studying abroad or graduating early. Also, seniors who apply to graduate school and want to re-sign for their apartment can’t since they don’t know if they will get in until winter.

Another issue that students aren’t aware of until after the resign date is whether they have a good landlord or building.

“We were worried if maintenance issues came up,” said Mariah Howard, junior in LAS. “The landlord would come fix it, but not fix it completely. If there were a big maintenance issue later in the year and you signed in October, you have to live with them for another year.”

The student senate intends on speaking to about 15 landlords after Thanksgiving break to get their unofficial approval and backing of the resolution. After winter break, the senate will go to City Council members with resolution and hope that it will become an ordinance.

“Signing a lease 10 months in advance is crazy,” Patt said. “The landlords do it because their competitors do it. I’d like to go back to the way it was in 1995 when everyone started shopping in spring semester.”