University News

Off-campus leases signed earlier by rising seniors

Senior Staff Writer
Friday, October 15, 2010

For many upperclassmen who wish to live off-campus, signing a lease is the happy end of the long housing road — from getting a group together, to obtaining permission from the Office of Residential Life, to finding the perfect house. But this whole process seems to be happening earlier this year.

Juniors, who have guaranteed permission to live off-campus next year, are now signing their leases in late September and October, something that Gail Medbury, director of auxiliary housing, said is relatively new.

“Students are consistently getting their leases earlier and earlier,” Medbury said. “People just want to make sure they get housing as soon as possible.”

Medbury said this was the first time she ever showed students housing over the summer because of high demand.

That was the case for Shay O’Brien ’12, a junior who lives off-campus. O’Brien signed her lease for her current house last May, after receiving permission from ResLife. But, at the same time, she also signed the lease for the house she will live in senior year — over a year in advance.

“From what I heard from upperclassmen,” O’Brien said, “if you do it as early as you can you’ll get the best deal.”

Gary Greenberg, a Providence landlord, said that signing a lease for a house a year in advance is the earliest he has ever seen.

Many juniors looking for housing said the rush to sign a lease is a self-propagating phenomenon.

Max Rosero ’12, who signed the lease for his senior year home at the end of September, said the pressure to sign came from hearing about other students who were also looking for housing and were planning on signing a lease early in the year.

“If everyone agreed to sign their lease second semester, there wouldn’t be a problem,” Rosero said. “But everyone heard about people signing and word spread out.”

Yuli Zhu ’12 felt the same pressure to sign soon when looking for housing.

“If you want the best house, you have to act quickly,” Zhu said.

And students aren’t the only ones feeling the rush. Landlords have also taken note of students wanting to sign leases earlier and earlier.

Rosero said his landlord told him that he previously would not have leased his house so early in the year.

“He used to rent my house in January, then it was pushed to November, then to October, and now to September,” he said.

Greg Datseris ’02, a Providence landlord, said he normally doesn’t lease houses until February or March, but he has seen other landlords sign students in October.

“I had no idea people were even looking so, so early,” he said.

Landlord Ed Bishop ’54 P’86 P’91 — who found Datseris his house when he was a senior at Brown — said this is a recent trend.

“Five years ago, people started calling in March, then it moved to Christmas, then it moved to before Christmas,” Bishop said. “But I’ve never seen so many students so early.”

Datseris said he thought good location prompted students to sign their leases earlier than normal.

“Far as I can tell, I get the feeling that frat houses want to grab houses closer to campus,” he said.

But, he added, this shift is unnecessary. “There’s a lot of houses right around the corner from campus that a lot of people want to get by September,” he said. “But that’s too early. October, November or even February, March would be fine.”

Current sophomores wishing to live off campus next year will have to wait  — off-campus permission for rising juniors is not granted until later in the year.

Bishop recommended that if students want to get housing close to campus, the earlier they sign a lease, the better. Though whether students sign their leases first semester or second semester “doesn’t really matter,” he said.

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