Metro, University News

Off-campus housing in high demand, complicated by lottery process

New lottery system introduces uncertainty in signing housing contracts for rising juniors

Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Office of Residential Life shifted the off-campus lottery timeline, instituting three lotteries — one in September, one in November and one in January — so students can re-apply to live off-campus if they do not initially receive off-campus permission.

As sophomores and juniors seek housing off campus for next fall, the Office of Residential Life has shifted the lottery system for rising juniors.

The off-campus lottery system has proven a pressure point in the ResLife experience. By February 2015, ResLife had granted off-campus permission to only 324 out of the 537 rising juniors who applied, according to an article published in The Herald. ResLife’s website states that permission is guaranteed to all rising seniors who apply for off-campus living by the December deadline. The same Herald article reported that in 2015 1,163 seniors were approved to live off campus.

Information for this year’s off-campus lottery results has not yet been released as the lotteries remain ongoing.

ResLife changed the lottery system for rising juniors by instituting three individual lotteries: one in September, one in November and one in January. Those who do not receive permission in the September lottery can re-apply in November, while those not approved in November can re-apply in January. Those not approved in January are placed on a waitlist and can appeal beginning in February.

But a large number of rising juniors begin the house search before ResLife announces the lottery results, said Emma Wyke ’17, who lives off campus this year and did the same her junior year. Furthermore, as many of the best houses are taken by rising seniors by the time ResLife announces its results to rising juniors, some sophomores sign a lease on a house for their junior year months before ResLife announces the winner of the lottery.

Despite an order from the top of the ResLife’s website that states, “Do not sign a lease to live off campus until you receive written permission from ResLife via email,” rising juniors who want the best houses risk signing a lease before ResLife approves their requests. Some sophomores also sign a lease for off-campus housing their senior year in an effort to secure the best housing.

Students go about finding housing in a number of ways, including through existing social groups and through online resources. Many varsity teams will attempt to keep houses in the team. Older members of teams who are residents of the house recommend younger members to their landlords. The same occurs for members of many fraternities and sororities.

But the majority of students will reach out to older friends for recommendations or landlords’ contact information, do research online and tour several houses before choosing a place to live.

For example, Ryan Simshauser ’18 and his roommates looked at seven houses before finally choosing one.

When looking for an off-campus house, Sam Koch ’18 said he made sure to talk to the current residents in addition to realtors.

In his experience, “students will give an accurate portrayal of what it’s like living there — the real pluses and minuses,” Koch said.