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Though many students will be looking for off-campus housing in the coming weeks, moving off campus will not necessarily get them outside of the grasp of University housing.

Penn operates University City Associates, which is one of the area's major landlords. However, UCA properties have been managed by Campus Apartments, another major area landlord, since the fall of 2002.

University officials say they contract with Campus Apartments to streamline the process of managing off-campus housing.

"It's very common for the University to hire and retain expert consultants," said Tony Sorrentino, the University's Real Estate and Facilities spokesman. "There are people that are really terrific [at] managing properties, and they take the burden off the University's real estate office."

And it certainly is no small job. Penn's Office of Off-Campus Living lists UCA as owning more than 1,100 units in the surrounding area.

That means that many of the off-campus properties that are either leased or managed by UCA or Campus Apartments -- perhaps the two largest landlords in University City -- are actually owned by Penn.

Yet despite the apparent monopoly that the University has on the off-campus rental market, most other landlords in the area are not particularly upset about it.

"There's no ill feelings" toward the University, said Scott Smith, a property manager at New Horizons Housing, which manages property in University City.

Smith went on to say that his company is trying to emulate the University's success in the realm of off-campus housing. "We're just working with the monopoly because they set the standard."

"Since the University of Pennsylvania has been there for so long, they've gotten the right locations -- which is the most important half of the battle as landlords," Smith said.

As a result, companies like New Horizons have at least partially shifted their focus to other parts of University City in an attempt to find their own niche.

"We try to find other ways to grab the other students that are still around," Smith said. "We're trying to expand in other areas -- on Chester [Avenue], and between 42nd and 48th streets."

Peter Devlin, a property manager for University City-based Sherman Properties, said his company is not worried about the University's tight grasp on the local housing market, noting that there are lots of people besides students living in the area.

"University City is becoming a popular destination not just with students, but with all kinds of people," Devlin said.

Devlin added that his company's business "comes from some students, some people who are associated with the University and then just people who are working, either in Center City [or] in University City."

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