Complexes see rise in lease takeovers as more students study online

Online schedules may be fueling more students to re-let this semester. Photo Illustration by Emileé Edwards | Photographer

By Meredith Howard | Assistant News Editor

With some students deciding to stay home this semester, local apartment complexes have received an influx of requests to re-let unit leases.

Houston senior Alexander Van Fleet, an employee of The View on 10th, said while students who signed leases at The View for the 2020-2021 academic year have been requesting lease takeovers at a higher rate than usual, people who are reletting have still been able to fill those spots at the expected pace.

“Surprising with the amount of stuff we have with COVID, a lot of people have been really quickly finding lease takeovers. So the market’s still there; people need housing. It’s like food. People need it, and it’s not going to go away,” Van Fleet said. “Regardless of the circumstances of the economy … they are going to get housing.”

Sasha Ramjattan, URSA sales and marketing manager, said URSA has also seen an uptick in residents looking to re-let.

“We have had individuals that are trying to re-let their lease because of going online, and also just because they don’t want to be in a unit with more than, you know, one other person, or if it’s three other people they don’t feel comfortable … that has been definitely an issue this year,” Ramjattan said.

URSA has also been able to fill most of those spots.

According to Baylor, about 1,400 students requested online schedules this fall, and it’s likely many of them looked to get off the hook for their leases. Van Fleet said re-letting an apartment is the only way to get out of a lease agreement.

“Typically when people get leases, they are legally binding, so there’s next to no criteria in which an individual can really get out of it, unless they have what we [call] a lease takeover,” Van Fleet said. “A lease takeover essentially is where an individual comes to us, they have to have the intent and actually tell us, ‘We do not want to have a lease anymore. Is there any way we can get out?’ … The way of getting it is having another individual take it over for them.”

One pro of taking over someone else’s lease is that an individual can secure a comparatively low rent price if the person who is re-letting signed their lease early.

“That price stays the same. It doesn’t change with the inflow of the market; if they signed really early, the person that is going be signing the lease takeover will be getting that same price,” Van Fleet said.

At The View, one wanting to re-let their apartment is responsible for finding someone to fill their spot.

“We don’t do any of the searching for them; however, they are welcome to go ahead and search on their own end, if they do want to get a lease takeover,” Van Fleet said.

At URSA, the complex assists students in finding someone to take over their leases.

“First they have to express interest in reletting, and then we will send them their re-let authorization, which basically authorizes that if we have anybody coming in, that we can openly market their apartment to that individual to backfill that spot,” Ramjattan said. “It is a $300 fee associated with reletting; we always let them know that upfront.”

Ramjattan said URSA has had “a lot” of students added to its re-let list because of online schedules this semester.

Ramjattan said November to January is prime time to put a lease on the re-let list because of incoming graduate and transfer students. Summer is a good time too.

During these peaks, Ramjattan said it takes “maybe two to four weeks” to get a lease re-let. The time range depends on how many bedrooms students are looking for as well. Ramjattan said transfers, graduate students and undergrads typically look for different sized apartments, so it’s best to list studios and one-bedrooms in spring semesters when graduate students often come to Baylor and larger apartments when transfers start in the fall.

“Other than those times, of course, our leasing season does slow down, so it is hard for us to help you backfill those spots, because, we only openly advertise to individuals that are coming in and out of the door,” Ramjattan said. “At the end of the day, it is technically the responsibility of the resident to make sure and backfill their spot, however, we do do our due diligence to help where we can.”