Editor's Note: The identity of a source used in this story has been removed due to privacy concerns.
As the fall semester begins to creep in, fear and financial burdens from COVID-19 are increasing the need for students to sublease their apartments—a task some have realized is easier said than done.
Texas State originally announced plans to conduct face-to-face instruction during its summer II semester. Four days prior to the July 6 start, however, the university said it would transition the majority of those classes to online delivery.
Texas State now plans to return to face-to-face instruction for the fall semester, but the mere planning for a hybrid format has not been enough to make those who must finalize housing plans comfortable with committing to year-long leases.
After suffering from financial burdens brought on by COVID-19, a student who spoke on the condition of anonymity decided to move back to their hometown in Cypress and transfer from Texas State to the University of Houston in the fall.
However, one thing is tugging them back to San Marcos: Their lease at The Avenue apartments. They have been searching for someone to take over their lease and say they have not had any luck throughout the process.
“It’s hard because I know so many people are trying to find others to take over their leases, and now is not really a good time for people to be leasing anywhere,” they said.
In distress from attempting to break her lease, the student and their mother spoke to The Avenue on possibly paying a one-time fee to be released from her contract.
“[They told us] ‘no you have to pay it out or find someone to pay it’, and right now we’re still stuck with it till I find someone to take it,” they said.
According to Taylor Alfonso, a leasing professional at The Avenue, the apartment has not adjusted its leasing policy to accommodate students strained by COVID-19.
“[Students] would have to find someone to relet their apartment,” Alfonso said. “They do that by themselves; that is their responsibility.”
While many students remain bound to a lease they have no interest in obtaining for the upcoming school year, some apartments put in place promotions that work to help students prepare for the fall semester.
Recognizing the reality of these unprecedented times, Vie Lofts at San Marcos communicated with universities across the nation to help execute its Peace of Mind program, a program that reassures students of their housing plans, or lack thereof, for the upcoming school year.
“The universities [we communicated with] decided by June 16 [to tell students if they planned to reopen] for either the summer sessions or fall,” said Sabine Kadyss, director of Brand Experience at Vie Lofts.
As part of the Peace of Mind Program, Kadyss says students were allowed to complete a rental application, sign a lease and pay a non-refundable deposit of $250. Then, students had the opportunity to either cancel or confirm their lease by June 19.
As a result of Texas State’s Roadmap to Return, Kadyss says only one cancellation was made out of the 20 leases signed through the program.
Although Texas State plans to conduct in-person classes this fall, the reality still remains unfeasible to some students. Lisa Garcia, a consumer affairs junior from Northwest Vista College, says she planned to transfer to Texas State. However, because she has asthma and is unable to work due to COVID-19, the move now seems unrealistic.
“I was supposed to be moving [to Texas State] for school, but due to COVID, my asthma and everything, that’s not going to happen,” Garcia said. “That’s why I was trying to get someone to take over my lease.”
Garcia signed her lease at The Retreat prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in February, making her one of the many college students bound to a student housing contract.
“I had called to see if they had any way that I could just be able to get out of my lease due to COVID and told them I had really bad asthma, and I wasn’t able to work,” Garcia said. “They said there was nothing they could do. I just [have] to find someone to take over my lease, which sucks [because] no one’s really going to want to sign a lease right now.”
The Star reached out to The Retreat apartments for comment and did not receive a response.
Many students who finalized fall housing plans on the basis of the university’s word and are struggling to get out of leases now feel unsettled with what is to come this school year.
“I understand the want to reopen everything, but I think seeing that we’re having to close back everything, the school shouldn’t reopen,” Garcia said. “At least until next year, to give everyone a break and get everything back to normal.”