On March 25, Cal Poly announced via email that Spring quarter will be taught virtually, leaving students to reevaluate whether to stay in San Luis Obispo or return to their hometowns.
“Right when the virus started to hit, I realized [we’d] be online the rest of the quarter,” business administration junior Ryan Blaser said.
When Blaser realized the quarter would be online, he said he and his family decided to sublease his room to save about three thousand dollars in rent money.
Blaser’s landlord originally approved his request to sublease, and Blaser said he was surprised by the amount of interest he received on Craigslist from people looking for housing.
However, his roommates were worried about the spread of the virus and later told their landlord that they did not want Blaser to sublease to a stranger, Blaser said.
“My family and I didn’t want any legal battles, so my landlord agreed to allow us to withhold my one-sixth portion of the rent and move out of the house,” Blaser said.
This meant that he did not have to pay rent for the remainder of the year, Blaser said. However, he said that it was stressful to figure out this solution.
“For the week that this situation lasted, it literally took up my whole life,” Blaser said, “It eventually worked out for me, but it was just stress, stress, stress the whole time.”
Depending on the landlord and housing facility, every place has a different policy regarding the pandemic at this time.
Valencia Apartments sent out an email to tenants that read, “Tenants who wish to break their contract may try to find someone to take over the remainder of their lease by going through our Re-Lease Process.”
The email also read that finding a replacement is not a guarantee and tenants and their guarantors are responsible for the contract until the contract is fulfilled or a suitable replacement is found.
Computer engineering sophomore Peniel Ng said that he decided to stay in San Luis Obispo he was unable to get out of his contract with Mustang Village.
“Since Mustang Village is not refunding residents if they leave for home, a lot of us are staying in SLO for the remainder of the quarter to stay in quarantine,” Ng said. “Cases of corona[virus] are worse back in the Bay and LA areas anyway, where many of us live.”
Garfield Arms Apartments Onsite Manager Steve — who requested that his last name be omitted — said he has been talking with many of his student tenants about their housing situations for the current academic year and the next.
“I not only have people that are currently living here that probably want to get out of the tail ends of their leases, but I’ve also got quite a few people that have already pre-leased for next school year,” Steve said.
Steve said that Garfield Arms pre-leased about half of the apartments for next year before the coronavirus shutdown.
Steve said until Cal Poly figures out whether or not Fall quarter will be online, he is not sure what housing and renting in San Luis Obispo will look like.
Out of the 60 units in the apartment complex, Steve estimated that about 40 percent of the tenants are currently still living there.
“I was afraid it was going to be worse, to be honest with you, I love it when everybody’s here,” Steve said. “I just love the energy.”
Steve does not deal with students moving out directly, and instead he directs them to the property manager at California West, he said.
California West President Derek Banducci wrote in an email that they have had a few requests from tenants asking to get out of their contracts.
Banducci wrote that they are dealing with these requests on a case-by-case basis, as they represent many different property owners and each tenant’s needs and situations are different.
California West has been trying to use payment plans for the property owner clients, but none of their clients have been willing to cancel any leases, Banducci wrote.
California West has stopped showing occupied units for potential 2020-2021 tenants since Governor Gavin Newsom implemented the statewide shelter-in-place order, which will continue until the order is lifted.
Banducci wrote there has been a decrease in interest, but they continue to receive phone calls about leasing for the 2020-2021 year.
If Fall 2020 is online, Banducci wrote they still plan to continue renting to anyone who wants to remain in San Luis Obispo.
“People still need a place to live even if classes are held remotely,” he wrote.