Tallahassee college students struggle with apartment leases amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 6:42 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 20:04:03-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Rebound Tallahassee is helping you make ends meet and manage the pressure of the pandemic.

Right now, thousands of college students are feeling the squeeze in their bank accounts after being forced from their apartments and back home.

Some Florida State University students who lived off campus are now trapped in leases they can't afford.

Two of them told ABC 27 what's next and some possible solutions they found for anyone facing the same situation.

When COVID-19 came to town college semesters grounded to a halt, moving online and sending many students packing.

"The majority of students are living at home because of the pandemic going on," said Aliya Juniadeen, a student at FSU.

But, unlike their on-campus peers who get refunds from the university, Juniadeen is still paying rent because she lived off-campus.

"Even if we were living there, there's no access to the amenities," Juniadeen said.

Juniadeen lived at University Village, part of American Campus Communities. She'd like her money back, but says the company isn't returning her requests.

Here's what we found:

The company's website says they aren't offering lease terminations or refunds because the lease is a contractual obligation.

They are working with residents faced with financial hardship on a case-by-case basis and temporarily waiving all online payment fees, late fees and financial related evictions.

Sam Fonville is in a similar situation at The Standard in Tallahassee.

"It's very frustrating," said Fonville. "It's also frustrating how we're not getting an answer from the apartment companies."

Fonville says he also contacted management about a refund, but didn't have much luck.

"The best we've gotten is, 'We're not going to offer aid, because we won't be able to pay our employees,'" Fonville said.

On The Standard's site, the company says they're waiving all online credit card and ACH fees for May's rent.

"I'm lucky enough, because I have parents who can step in," said Fonville.

As for these two students, they're still weighing their options when it comes to where they'll live in the fall, or if they'll come back to campus at all.

"It's just the uncertainty that I think is making us all anxious," said Juniadeen.

If you're stuck in a similar situation, you may have options depending on your lease.

You may be able to get out of paying if your lease has an early termination clause, you're active duty military relocating for work or if you can find a tenant willing to take over the rest of the lease.

The Standard issued the following response:

We recognize that some residents may be facing financial hardships during these unprecedented times. We encourage all leaseholders who have experienced an income loss as a result of the pandemic to reach out to us so we can work with them to identify potential options for their particular situation.
The Standard

And American Campus adds on their website, "If you are a resident and you and your family have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, please contact us regarding your financial situation."

We have all of these stories and more under The Rebound tab on our website and free mobile app.

You'll find information on Making Ends Meet, Getting Back to Work, Doing What's Right, and Managing the Pressure.