BYU students struggle to sell yearlong housing contracts

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Editor’s note: The Daily Universe received more than 100 comments on a June 5, 2017 Facebook post asking our readers about issues they have had with off-campus housing. Those comments led, in part, to the development of the BYU Off-Campus Housing Series.

Part One – Off-campus BYU housing: It’s complicated

Part Two – Housing quality doesn’t always live up to price, students say

Part Four – Off-campus tenants and landlords clash over security deposits

Part Five – Students find ways to cope during “homeless week”

Part Six – Students share their housing horror stories

Part Seven – BYU-contracted housing: What to do if you have a problem

The BYU Off-Campus Housing Series — Part Three

Jaimie Mortensen would have to pay rent for her apartment in Provo although she would be more than 6,000 miles away. She was leaving on a BYU study abroad to Japan and she hadn’t sold her yearlong contract in time.

Many of BYU’s off-campus housing options require tenants to sign a yearlong contract. As a result, some students, like Mortensen, pay rent for spring or summer even when they are not living in Provo.

Students who try to sell their yearlong contracts typically use a listing service such as Craiglist or KSL, or they can submit a listing through the BYU Off-campus housing site. Facebook has also become a popular method for selling contracts.

Despite her efforts to sell her discounted contract on the Facebook Provo housing group pages, Mortensen said it is a “rat race” trying to be the first to respond to potential buyers, especially since she is in a different time zone now.

“The most frustrating part of selling my contract has probably been the apartment management,” Mortensen said.

Mortensen thought she was in the clear when someone agreed to buy her contract, but one month later the apartment management told her the contract fell through. They also sold her graduated roommate’s contract first, despite telling her they would do their best to help get hers sold.

Mortensen said she feels the BYU contracted housing options are too limited.

“We’ll pay for the overpriced, run-down apartment because it’s BYU approved, and without that stamp of approval we can’t go to school,” she said.

Morgan Wallis, a senior studying family services, has lived in seven different BYU contracted housing apartments in her time as a BYU student. In four of those places, Wallis had to sell her yearlong contract.

“It’s so hard to sell spring/summer contracts because the price doesn’t drop for the most part or they are way more expensive, but it’s kind of been my only option for some places,” Wallis said.

Students who get married or go on missions often find themselves struggling to sell their yearlong contracts. Wallis said her husband could not sell his contract until after they were married.

Students commonly try to sell their contracts through an online listing service, Facebook pages or by word of mouth. (Dani Jardine)

In order to improve her chances of selling her contracts, Wallis has let interested buyers keep her deposit or she has subsidized part of their rent.

Wallis said it would be helpful if management companies offered to assist students in their efforts to sell their contracts, but in her experience, many of them don’t seem to care.

“I understand why management companies do year-round contracts, because they want to keep them full for the summer,” Wallis said. “But as a student if they could just do fall/winter contracts and spring/summer contracts, it would ease so much struggle.”

BYU student Rieley Hoyt said many of his friends have also paid interested buyers extra money in order to get their contracts sold.

“They started losing a lot of money when they were doing internships or going home for the summer,” he said.

The Student-Landlord Rental Agreement allows students to terminate their agreement for graduation and for internships required for graduation with a 120-day written notice given to the landlord.

According to the BYU Off-Campus Housing website, some landlords have misinterpreted or avoided this clause in the past.

In this letter to landlords, the BYU Off-Campus Housing office stated this clause was created to allow students who have graduated or who have internships to “move on with their profession and create room for new student-tenants.”

Hoyt said many students are not aware of this policy and that it would be nice if complexes were more transparent about policies that would benefit students.

Some students are offered internships too late to give the required 120-day notice. Mortensen has an internship after her study abroad that meets the requirements in her contract, but she was unable to give a 120-day notice.

Jennifer Brown, the leasing manager at Liberty on Freedom, said the owners of the Liberty on Freedom offer fall/winter and spring/summer contracts because they know other housing places only offer yearlong contracts. However, signing on for a yearlong contract is significantly cheaper than signing for a seasonal one.

Heritage Halls and Helaman Halls offer fall/winter contracts, spring contracts, and summer contracts. If students leave BYU, go on a mission, get married or enter the military after the fall semester, then they may petition to be released from the winter portion of their contract.

Contracts for married students at Wyview Park and Wymount Terrace are on a month-to-month basis, and tenants can terminate their contract with 30 days advance notice.

If students are having issues with off-campus housing, they can contact The Office of Off-Campus Housing at 801-422-1513.

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