BYU on- and off-campus housing respond to students returning home

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Students living at Helaman Halls and Heritage Halls do not have to pay rent for the time after they have moved out due to the university’s recommendations to return home. (Sarah Hill)

BYU students have been encouraged to consider returning home to finish the semester after the university announced classes would move online, but housing management companies throughout Provo have responded in a variety of ways.

Jamison Layman, who lives at Park Place apartments, said that management isn’t letting anyone out of contracts, which he was informed of via email.

“Recently, BYU has issued a statement on their action plan in relation to COVID-19,” the email reads. “We wanted to clarify for those residents who are traveling home, this announcement does not release you from your lease. The lease contract is still in effect, and rent will be charged on the first of each month as normal.”

Layman is still planning on returning home to Georgia this week because his living expenses will be lower and he has work there.

Layman said when he first got the email, he was annoyed because he has already been frustrated with what he felt was a lack of maintenance on behalf of the management. “I definitely plan on living somewhere else next semester,” he said. Jamison pays $420 a month in rent and $50 for utilities, and he will pay $500 for the time he is not there.

Management of Alpine Village, Liberty Square and College Place have sent out similar emails informing tenants that they will not receive a refund if they return home according to tenants of the listed complexes.

Legend Real Estate sent an email to tenants living at Brownstone Condominiums stating that though they have no plans to release anyone from their contracts, they will work with students who aren’t able to work because of COVID-19. “If anyone’s ability to pay rent is related to a loss of employment associated with the coronavirus, please contact our office to create a payment plan,” reads an email to tenants.

On-campus housing has chosen a different response. Grace Christensen, a freshman living at Helaman Halls, is also going home early, but she’s able to get her money back. “It’s relieving honestly because there are so many other logistics I have to work out and finishing up last minute things for school and packing up my stuff,” she said.

Christensen said she will get refunded on the rent she paid through April along with any unused money on her meal plan. “I know people have been having a hard time (getting out of contracts), so I am super lucky.”

Nicole Lyons, a freshman living at Heritage Halls, is also able to receive a refund on her rent (her contract originally lasted until April).

The University of Utah has implemented the same policy for their on-campus housing, according to the U of U’s Housing and Residential Education (HRE) website. All HRE tenant’s accounts will be prorated and credited based on the day a cancellation request was submitted for those still home from their spring break. Tenants currently on-campus will be compensated based on their move-out date.

The University of Utah has not made clear the situation for students living in University Student Apartments (USA) according to an email to students from the university.

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