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Having trouble finding a subletter? Chapel Hill students struggle to find summer leasers


Apartment complex Shortbread Lofts. Photo Courtesy of Daryl Kondstandt.

It’s officially spring and it seems like everyone is scrambling to solidify their summer plans. Facebook news feeds are flooded with a mix of friends actively seeking housing options and others trying to fill their current residencies. 

This turnover between the spring and summer sessions can result in a fairly complicated subletting process. Some students have found this procedure so difficult that it has affected their summer plans, but others have learned how to work the system to their advantage. 

Fouad Abu-Hijleh, a resident of Shortbread Lofts, has not found someone to take over his lease. As a result, he plans to stay in Chapel Hill until late July and take an EMT course rather than returning home to Amman, Jordan. 

Abu-Hijleh listed his apartment on a few Facebook groups, but hasn’t received any reasonable offers.

Senior business journalism major Olivia Schaber, resident of an off-campus house and a former Daily Tar Heel city assistant editor, is working at Bloomberg this summer and already has housing in New York. 

“If I didn’t have that opportunity I would definitely consider staying in Chapel Hill if I couldn’t find a subleaser,” she said. 

On the other side of this search, sophomore Taylor Massee Smith said her experiences using Facebook groups to look for summer housing were mostly positive. Smith said she wasn’t particularly looking forward to summer classes but they’re necessary in order for her to complete her second major and graduate on time. 

“People are good at communicating and there are always people looking for someone to sublet,” Smith said. 

Summer Sublets/Off-Campus Housing is an open group within UNC’s Facebook network and is just one of the dozens of pages that exist for this purpose. 

Michelle Brown, an administrator of the Facebook page, said the site has helped her find places to live.

“After two years of managing the page it’s helped me strategically plan how to spend my summers in Chapel Hill because I can sublease my small apartment and live somewhere twice as nice for the same price but better location just because of how desperate renters are,” Brown said.

Shortbread Lofts, an apartment complex only 10 minutes walking distance from UNC’s campus, described their subletting procedures as easy. Once the resident finds a subleaser, they must apply and proceed through the background screening process like any other resident, said Dylan Pfingst, Shortbread’s leasing assistant. 

“The reason why we do subletting is to protect the resident handing the lease over to another person,” Pfingst said. 

Although the process seems easy, students have a hard time finding someone to take over their lease at a reasonable price. 

The competitiveness of the subletting process has resulted in some apartment holders significantly decreasing their listing price and continuing to pay a portion of the rent themselves.

Sophomore public policy major Kimberly Miramontes, a Shortbread Loft resident, spent three months searching for a subletter and came down $300 from her initial asking price before solidifying her summer plans to study abroad. 

“It seems like most complexes in Chapel Hill are pretty user friendly with the whole subletting process," Miramontes said. "It’s more a matter of finding someone who is willing to take over your lease at the same price you pay. Since people have so many options, that’s the part I see as difficult.”

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