Campus housing will only offer singles in the spring semester and have enough room for about 3,900 students to return to campus, Executive Director Allan Blattner said in a Wednesday Zoom meeting.
Carolina Housing and other UNC departments had a virtual "lunch and learn" to answer the question many students and parents are wondering: ‘What is campus housing going to look like for the spring semester?’
Blattner sketched a rough outline for how campus residency will be organized for the spring.
“In terms of charging, because we are making the determination that every room will be a single room, it will be charged at the double room rate, except for the apartments, which have a higher rental rate and it will be charged at the normal apartment rate,” Blattner said.
But Blattner said this 3,900 number may not actually be the total number of students actually allowed back onto campus. He said the amount of students who return to campus next semester depends on factors like public health orders and academic offerings.
Blattner said how and when students would be chosen to be invited back to campus has not been finalized yet. This is due to the extenuating circumstances brought on by COVID-19 that make planning next semester a moving target both at the state and departmental level.
Tamsin Engel, a sophomore political science major, attended the Zoom chat and shared her thoughts on the Carolina Housing plan.
“I think it’s a safe move,” Engel told The Daily Tar Heel. “But it implies that they can’t guarantee housing to everyone that wants it, so I wish they would give us more information so we can know if we need to move forward with off-campus options.”
With COVID-19’s impact expected to stretch beyond the spring semester, Blattner said housing has started reconsidering logistics for contracting leases for the next academic year.
Though students usually have the opportunity to lease a room for the next academic year in late October, Blattner said housing selections for the next academic year will occur in the early spring semester.
“Those dates will be announced in the next couple of days,” he said.
Other speakers present at the panel aimed to give students and parents some advice to take with them as they look for off-campus living arrangements.
Tristan Routh, a lawyer for Carolina Student Legal Services who represents students in landlord-tenant disputes, emphasized the importance of understanding the legal bindings that come with the off-campus renting landscape.
Routh said many students attempted to jump out of their leases “at the time specific announcements were made, i.e. in March when this all started, and again when classes went back online in August.”
Routh said getting out of a lease is almost impossible, unless students have a pre-arranged contingency in the contract of the lease, pursue a buy-out option or have a court order saying they do not have to pay the property owner.
Routh said though there aren’t many protections afforded to renters in North Carolina, renters are guaranteed habitable living conditions under the North Carolina's Residential Rental Agreement Act.
“Start looking for leases now,” he said.
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