Achieving a college degree is a common life goal, but sometimes, life makes that more challenging than expected. The COVID-19 pandemic placed many students in tough situations regarding their classes and housing. As shutdowns continue, college housing could face several changes.
Universities and off-campus landlords want to work with their students, but they also want to protect themselves legally. These are a few ways they want to meet students in the middle.
1. Schools may demolish dorms
Many people have fond memories of their college dorm days, but they aren't safe during a pandemic. Piling students into shared living spaces and crowded floors only spreads potential deadly diseases. Companies that own student housing on college campuses want to phase dorms and community bathrooms out entirely, which may take time.
University officials adapted private housing to those in need during the spring of 2020 and made all possible adjustments for the current semester. Future one-bedroom apartments or condos will require timely construction and may begin to show up on worldwide campuses in late 2021 or early 2022.
2. Landlords could change leases.
When students moved home at the beginning of the pandemic, many found themselves stuck paying rent for a room they weren't using. Even off-campus landlords faced this challenge with their tenants, so many will likely update their leases with pandemic-related language in mind.
The updates would clarify the legal expectations of off-campus housing residents, specifically for student tenants. Noise is a typical student housing dispute that has become more important when so many people shelter at home. Continuous loud sounds could breach excessive noise covenants and get students out of their leases if their neighbors make the unit an uncomfortable place to live. It's one way to show concern for tenants' needs before they ever move in.
3. Universities might limit pre-leases.
Some universities allow students to sign pre-leases for on-campus housing. It grants early access to the best rooms a semester or a few months before other students can apply for the same spaces. Future students may hesitate to sign leases so early, limiting room availability before closer traditional deadlines.
4. Cleaning crews will adapt.
Although colleges still expect students to clean their living spaces, the crews that would usually sanitize everything during summer breaks will adapt to changing times. The CDC issued updated cleaning recommendations for universities to follow during the pandemic. Now, students will work together to sanitize shared surfaces and keep campus residences clean.
5. Students could move off campus.
Schools need time to find the space and funding for more single-room residences. In the meantime, students could move off-campus in bigger waves than before. They might find more affordable rental fees just a few streets away. On-campus housing is notoriously expensive because it includes student fees and covers the costs of regulating multi-unit buildings.
If students have to move home again for a future shutdown, getting stuck with budget-friendly off-campus rent would be preferable if they couldn't get out of their leases.
6. Free rooms may multiply.
Universities that don't have a significant number of private residences may have more empty rooms in future semesters. More students will consider signing up for virtual classes that didn't exist before the pandemic. They could also commute from home if they're worried about moving out for a lockdown. That would make typically competitive rooms free for other students who want to live on-campus still.
7. Watch the trends.
As shutdowns continue, these are a few ways college housing could change. Watch for other rising trends that could occur as students, housing administrators and landlords all find a way forward into an unprecedented future.