Tenants, managers question how BYU’s hybrid Fall Semester will affect off-campus housing

Students living in off-campus housing still have questions about how the hybrid Fall semester will affect their contracts. (Preston Crawley)

Uncertainty about off-campus housing remains as students and rental managers respond to BYU’s announcement about Fall Semester.

The upcoming semester will be a “hybrid” of online and in-person learning, with all classes going completely remote after Thanksgiving.

BYU students still have questions about what this will mean for housing, including whether high-risk students can cancel their fall contracts and whether students will have to pay December rent.

Vision Real Estate President Jeremiah Maughan said the company would look at tenants’ circumstances on a case-by-case basis, using the Winter 2020 Semester arbitration rulings as a precedent for its decisions.

Before any arbitration decisions were published, Maughan said, property owners were left without guidance to make calls on students’ petitions to be released from contracts. He predicted this coming semester will be easier.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Maughan said, adding that he and others at Vision Real Estate are just relieved to have renters in the fall.

Maughan also confirmed that students will still have to pay rent in December. Vision Real Estate will be treating the post-Thanksgiving remote period like an extended Christmas break, he said.

“If somebody has a typical eight- or 12-month contract and they’re gone from the middle of December to the second week of January, they’re still paying rent, they still have their stuff there in most cases, and they just come back,” he said. “So, we would not be prorating rents or anything like that.”

Maughan also said he’s expecting most students will return to their off-campus apartments after Thanksgiving, anyway.

Some students share this viewpoint. BYU student Mike Olson said he plans to continue working in Provo after Thanksgiving, even though classes will be remote, and he sees no need to try to cancel his contract.

“I bought a contract and didn’t sell, so I’m good,” he said. “It throws landlords under the bus if people try to weasel out of contracts.”

Student Naomi McAllister found herself in the same situation. “I kept my off-campus contract for fall, so I’m glad I can use it.”

Other students were less satisfied with the announcement. BYU student Rachel Winters said the set-up for Fall semester will “probably leave me roommate-less again.”

Clare Hamn said the announcement “makes any housing in Provo pointless for me and many other out-of-state students.”

BYU announced that check-in for on-campus housing will happen in phases and encouraged students living in off-campus housing to move in as early as possible “to ensure no signs or symptoms of illness are present before returning to classes.”

BYU is also encouraging students to download and use the Healthy Together app to manage symptoms and testing of COVID-19.

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