Students are ready to return to campus
The Florida Board of Governors only approved UF’s reopening plan on Tuesday.
The university’s reopening plan outlines several changes that will go into effect inside residence halls, including the reduction of 111 triple occupancy dorm rooms to double occupancy. This change is to allow for greater social distancing inside the dorm room.
The Standard, a luxury student apartment complex on the northwest corner of Northwest 13th Street and West University Avenue, has fully leased all 1,200 of its beds for the upcoming school year as of mid-June, said Jason Hurst, the North Florida director for commercial real estate company Colliers International.
Hurst said leasing out the rooms took longer than in past years, potentially due to hesitation from students and their families not yet knowing the full extent of the university’s plan for the fall.
“Usually, The Standard is pre-leased by about mid-May, so there was a delay of about 30-45 days,” Hurst said. The apartment complex had about a 10-25% reduction in lease rates compared with previous years, he said.
Most leasing agreements do not allow tenants to terminate their leases, which some families wanted to do when in-person classes at UF and SF College were canceled in March and thousands of students were suddenly asked to return to their homes across the state. Hurst, of Colliers International, said that during the spring and summer semesters, The Standard did not have issues collecting rent money from tenants.
UF student government also during the spring semester allocated $500,000 of reserve funds toward rent relief for students living off-campus who found themselves bound to rent in places they were no longer living.
John Hayter, a Gainesville attorney whose practice includes landlord-tenant law, said the current situation with COVID-19 is putting both parties in a bind — landlords who need to maintain their revenues and tenants who may have more limited incomes.
Florida also has a moratorium on evictions through July 1, meaning tenants cannot be kicked out even in the event that they do not pay rent, because of the pandemic. It is possible that Gov. Ron DeSantis could extend the moratorium.
Hayter said if a tenant is unable to pay rent, he advises landlords to work with them to allow them to pay over time, rather than forgive the debt altogether.
“Everyone should act as reasonably as possible,” he said.