Demand high for off-campus rentals

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Action Realty’s Leigh Jeffcoat has noticed a 65 percent rise in this year’s demand for student rentals. “We have eight houses for rent now and only one of them is for students,” she said. “All of our apartments are full.”

The demolition of Troy University’s Alumni Hall has increased the demand for off-campus housing throughout the city. The university will soon begin construction of its new Alumni Hall, a four-floor, 118,754-square-foot dorm that will house 428 students.

Because of the anticipated demand, many student renters opted to renew their current leases. Of the 18 rental units she manages, Jeffcoat had only three renters choose not to renew. Those units rented quickly. In fact, she has one person waiting for any unit that comes available.

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“And we’re not going to get it,” she said. “Some actually went ahead and rented a place in June, even though they planned to go home for the summer. They knew that housing was going to be short.”

Despite the increase in demand, Jeffcoat said her rentals are still renting at the same price they rented last year.

Al Renfroe said it would be tough to quantify the increase in demand he has seen at Blue Key Rentals.

“We’re pretty close to capacity,” he said.

For those who have not nailed down a residence, Renfroe recommended doing some homework. “Don’t wait until the last minute,” he said. “Start looking now.”

One group of people has no choice but to wait. Incoming freshmen are required to live on campus, unless, of course, they have waited too long to sign up.

Herbert Reeves, dean of student services, said the university has more than 200 people currently on the waiting list for on-campus housing. Some are freshmen who, if not placed by July, will be allowed to rent off-campus. Chances are, they will have slim pickings by then.

Many upperclassmen plan to live on campus. With a capacity of about 2,000, Reeves said the university limits the number of on-campus upperclassmen to 800. “This year, 600.”

Students can often save money by living off campus. But, convenience is on-campus living’s appeal.

In addition to being close to classes and activities, on-campus housing fees are all-inclusive. Utilities, rent and Internet access are covered. The new Alumni Hall will have even more features. There will be meeting rooms, technology areas, study rooms, laundry areas and a convenience store.

Until Alumni Hall is complete, Reeves had one bit of advice for students, “If they are eligible to live off campus, I would encourage them to do so.”