Smile Politely

The On-Campus Housing Rush

Kristie Davis of Bankier Apartments began receiving calls about leasing for August 2009 in July 2008, before many students had even moved into their current apartments.

Leasing for on-campus apartments in Champaign-Urbana debuted in late September this year, as the leasing season continues to begin earlier with each passing year. Many students fear they won’t find an apartment they like if they wait past October, but landlords continue placing classified ads for on-campus apartments even into January.

Last year, a listing of available apartments in the October 31 Daily Illini showed nearly 250 separate buildings. Campus Property Management, for example, advertised 43 available buildings, 27 of which were traditionally coveted three- or four-bedroom units. Most of these buildings had multiple units available. An example of a complex advertised on November 30, 2007 was a four-bedroom apartment with free internet, a Jacuzzi and a 48” big screen TV at Clark and Sixth Streets in Champaign.

Esther Patt of the University of Illinois Tenant Union composed a list of 74 buildings, most of which were on campus, still available in January 2008 for the following fall. Thirteen of these buildings featured four bedroom apartments, and some apartments on the list were as close to campus as Fifth or Sixth Streets. This list included only landlords with ten or fewer complaints in the last five years.

Michael Jay, director of public relations and communication for Campus Property Management, said, “There are a lot of apartments to go around, but there is a percentage of people who want the newest and best apartments and they do need to rush.” As of October 13, Jay said that four of CPM’s buildings were completely leased for the following year. He says CPM feels pressured to begin leasing early because other companies do.

Kristie Davis, property manager of Bankier Apartments, said that by October 13, the company had leased 70 to 80 per cent of its three- and four-bedroom apartments.

Dan Hamelberg, owner of The University Group, said, “The landlord does not initiate the leasing season — the customers do. Students miss out on that great apartment that they had their heart set on and they look earlier the next year.” He estimated that The University Group rents 80 to 90 per cent of its units in October and November.

Davis said that students have a choice of when to begin looking for apartments. “They come to us and we give them what they want,” she said.

Many students feel pressured to begin looking early for fear of not finding a desirable apartment. Garrett Whitsitt, a University of Illinois junior, said, “We have no choice. That’s just how it is.”

Student Alex Haser, added, “I see places going everywhere. It’s not impossible to find a place (later), it’s just a lot tougher.”

The University of Wisconsin, with a student population of over 40,000, also sees a leasing season beginning in October and November. Sam Chasin, information guide for Visitor Information Programs, said younger students race to find apartments but that as they get older, they realize that they can wait longer. The University is launching ad campaigns to encourage students to shop smarter and wait longer to begin their apartment search.

Until 1996, Illinois students began looking for apartments in January or February. “It was so much better for the students,” said Patt.

More Articles