Rep. Carlos G. Smith and Rep. Anna V. Eskamani sent a joint letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis Friday urging him to sign an executive order that would allow students to terminate their off-campus housing agreements without penalty or intimidation from landlords.
The letter to DeSantis calls for students enrolled in Florida state colleges, as well as public and private universities, to be able to end lease agreements during the State of Emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In fact, it has come to our attention that students across the State of Florida are consistently being denied the opportunity to terminate their off-campus housing leases early without any reasonable accommodation during this declared a State of Emergency,” the letter said. “In East Orlando, home to the University of Central Florida and Valencia College East, we have heard directly from students and parents who have experienced these predatory business practices in at least twenty-two off-campus housing properties.”
BREAKING: We've sent a joint letter w/Rep. Eskamani to @GovRonDeSantis urging him to sign an EO letting students out of off-campus housing leases WITHOUT penalty or intimidation from landlords. Many students can't afford rent and need to #StayAtHome w/family during this pandemic. pic.twitter.com/e9V0nPvhhr— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) April 3, 2020
UCF Interim President Thad Seymour, Jr. also reached out to off-campus housing managers on Monday urging them to work with students on a case-by-case basis.
“Please consider granting early lease terminations and flexibility with rent payment plans, security deposits and guarantees,” Seymour wrote in the letter.
This was not enough, however, according to Smith and Eskamani.
The two are pleading with DeSantis to sign an executive order that will allow students to terminate their lease agreements with no further penalties.
“The student tenant should not be liable for any other rent, damages, fines or late fees due to the early termination of the tenancy as provided for in your executive order,” the letter said.
This joint letter comes after Eskamani sent a letter on Wednesday to 10 UCF off-campus housing properties advocating for students to be able to end their lease agreements early to avoid creating more “financial uncertainty” for a young demographic in Florida.
Today our office sent letters to 10 different @UCF off-campus student apartments asking for flexibility to be provided for students to end their leases early.Now is NOT the time to create even more financial uncertainty for some of our youngest Floridians. 1/ pic.twitter.com/Z5c8EsJf96— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) April 1, 2020
Several off-campus housing properties are working on a case-by-case basis when it comes to rental agreements with students.
Here is what each of the major UCF off-campus student housing properties are doing for its tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of paying rent as of Friday, they all told NSM Today in phone interviews:
- Arden Villas: case-by-case basis, offering payment plans
- Boardwalk at Alafaya Trail: late rent payments offered on case-by-case basis
- Hub On Campus Orlando: rent due as planned, no further accommodations
- Knights Circle: offering payment plans
- The Marquee: waiving late fees for April, offering payment plans soon
- Mercury 3100: offering payment plans
- Northgate Lakes: case-by-case basis
- Orion on Orpington: case-by-case basis, offering payment plans
- Plaza on University: offering payment plans
- The Pointe at Central: case-by-case basis
- The Retreat at Orlando: case-by-case basis
- The Station Alafaya: case-by-case basis
- The Verge: offering payment plans
- The Village at Science Drive: case-by-case basis, offering payment plans
For more information about off-campus housing properties, tenants are encouraged to reach out to their leasing offices to make accommodations.